Judge Alsup, who demonstrated some proficiency with programming Java in the first leg of the case, came to the same conclusion. That's because Alsup did what many programmers do: They come to the wrong conclusion.
APIs are covered by copyright, and no amount of wishful thinking makes this go away.
It's unfortunate, but what Alsup did was conflate the API with the ABI, and that's a fundamental problem.
It's extremely easy to conflate the two. After all, if we use (or write) an API, we expect that the system will compile that code so that it's executed by the hardware. This compilation is the responsibility of the ABI and it's this responsibility that is not covered by copyright.
Read the above again because it's extremely important. An API cannot be designed without an ABI. The API is exclusive to the ABI but the ABI is not exclusive to the API.
That's because we can create the API but we cannot create the ABI.
Alsup simply learned the application layer and it's extremely unlikely he looked (or cared) about the processing layer.
While it's true Java has its own APIs, it's important to realize that Java has its own set of compilers.
Note the "s" on "compiler". Plural, and there's a reason for that.
The Java Runtime Engine, or JRE, is what makes Java work. No amount of code written in Java works without the compiler and it's this where API separates from ABI.
Note how there's a version for each operating system.
While each and every API in those downloads may be identical regardless of OS, the JRE is not identical! Read this until it sinks in: The JRE is not identical between OS versions.
With that out of the way...
This doesn't mean I'm defending Oracle. Oh, hell no. But, what Oracle is doing is not against the law but it is against the cardinal rule of software development: you don't sue users of your APIs because it's win-win.
The likely reality is that Oracle will win this case, but like the article above, doom and gloom hover over the development world as though it's the End of Days.
If Oracle wins, there's a great, great chance software copyright ends because it would take about 0.0000001 seconds (and that's being generous as most are probably already preparing should Oracle win) for companies to band together and force Congress to rescope copyright and remove APIs (as well as code itself, because technically, all code is an API) from copyright law.
Of course, the maximalists will freak out so there's only one viable option left: copyright the design, not the source.
By the way, this isn't a joke. The very reason software is copyright is because the US Copyright Office took an extremely stupid analogy and used it for software: "A blueprint to a bridge is the same as the bridge itself."
Yep, that's what they said, and now both blueprints and software are covered under copyright.
If you're wondering why the analogy is stupid, it's because all blueprints will share a commonality on the safety and engineering requirements to make the bridge safe.
Those elements on a blueprint are not copyrighted just as ABIs are not copyrighted on computers (aka, the "system").
Before I close, I'd like to remark on another facet of software development which proves APIs are covered under copyright: The GNU/GPL licenses.
Has anyone actually read them? If not, I'd ask you do because you'll note something unique about them. However, if you don't have the time or care to do so, here's what a typical GNU/GPL licenses says: "You can use our software and do what you want with it, but you can't sell it and you need to keep it open".
That's the gist. But here's something most people don't get about those licenses: they're still a copyright license. In fact, they're written to purposely remove the restrictions of copyright.
Ask yourself this: how much of the GNU/GPL software uses APIs, do you guess? Quite a few, which means if there's a license to open the use, this means there's a license on APIs, which means they're covered by copyright.
It's a disgusting pill to swallow, but that's the reality of the situation.
And then they wonder why the public doesn't respect copyright law?
Having read the article, I was taken aback by the closing sentence, which I included in bold above. Perhaps it's just me, but shouldn't the sentence have ended with: "And then they wonder why the public doesn't respect copyright law."
Note the end punctuation. Rather makes a bolder statement of truth, rather than question.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check my torrent to see if I have the latest episode of "Boobs and Dragons".
This was because consumers don't own the servers on which the product is entirely dependent. What you don't seem to understand, and the point about Nest makes perfect sense, is that because we don't "own" the software running our product, it can be made useless.
With the video game examples above, not a single one of my products has stopped working despite: -game servers are long gone, which only affects those games -account(s) are no longer valid, but do not affect the hardware -disks still play and don't require a single authentication with a server
In the past 3 years alone, almost every physical product has been pushed to find a server simply to allow companies to control the hardware.
My refrigerator should never, ever stop working simply because Samsung decides it has had enough of running an app no one uses.
My car had better not stop working simply because the ODB computer software is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
These are but two examples of a growing problem. Hell, I can't even play a single game on my console anymore unless I'm connected online.
The "interconnected" world and the false belief people don't own hardware is a perpetual war just waiting to explode, because one day, when consumers finally pull their heads out of their asses, are going to realize the problem.
The most terrifying piece of this IP bullshit: HOAs now have the "legal" authority to take away your house simply because A) you don't own the land it's on and B) you failed to pay the fees.
Your own damn home now part of this IP bullshit.
Welcome to the United States of North Korea. All praise our might corporate overlords.
FBI: "We need some paperwork cleared up." Atty: "What paperwork."
FBI: "Uh... hold on a second." Atty: [gets dial tone]
FBI: "Us again. Your client, we need her again." Atty: "Why?"
FBI: "Just... get her here." Isis: "WTF, FBI?!?"
All in all, if someone can have the feds come slamming down on an innocent person over ISIS beer funds, I can only imagine the abject horror of anyone actually named Isis, who is probably now on more watch lists than a TV guide.
That's probably what the FBI wants to confirm, but are too fucking stupid just to say it.
Prince, the artist, will be missed. I concur with the article's accolades of his achievements.
However, Prince himself destroyed any chance anyone will "fondly remember him" who didn't grow up in an era where his videos were plastered on MTV every 12 seconds or on the air with this old thing call "radio".
The majority of Prince fans come from this era, not the current digital era. Sure, a handful will mostly know him (death does wonders for an artist's career), but the many more simply won't care as they ask "Prince who?"
That's not a shame. That's precisely what happens when an artist punches their fans in the face while trying to hit back against the record label, or worse, pretend they have control over what can and cannot be used by the fans they're trying to serve.
So, a cautionary tale for you imbeciles out there who think it's possible: IF YOU WANT TO KEEP CONTROL OF YOUR WORKS, KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF.
Trust me when I say there's more than enough to go around and we certainly don't want your nasty attitude.
We are pleased to announce streaming with any Roku device will no longer count against your data cap, regardless which device you use.
We've secretly partnered with Roku and will receive a kickback of a few cents per gigabyte, but this isn't your concern, as you no doubt love paying for transmission more than once, time and time again.
So please stay ignorant and thank you for being a Comcast and Roku customer!
I call it the Billion Dollar Disease™ and, so far, it has affected every damn company whose earnings hit $1B.
The disease? Oh, it's nasty. Companies which start out from the garage, who beg, borrow, and plead to have laws changed so they can grow, finally do then completely fucking forget how they got to where they are today and now use the money to prevent other businesses from growing.
I remember the days cable struggled to get established. The Big 3 networks did everything they could to prevent consumers from having choices in other stations.
Then, a small company (you may have heard of them) called "Home Box Office" literally turned cable into an obscure want to a must-have need. Cable expansion exploded, as more people wanted HBO. As cable expanded, so too did its lineup.
Hell, most people reading this have never seen cable without commercials, but a few will remember (and wish we had again).
Now look at cable. Pathetic. Hell bent on destroying both competition (streaming is the new cable) and customer trust.
All because they forgot what it was like to start out.
Tom Wheeler didn't forget. In fact, his entire damn position is trying to force companies to remember what it was like when they were the disruptive force.
Yet here we are, reading another article from something ridiculous Comcast has done.... again.
One of these days, I'll actually read a positive article about the company here on Techdirt, but will most likely have to have someone do it through a ouija board. For if I held my breath waiting for Comcast to change...
"As the decades have gone by, commercial time has grown," Lorne Michaels What hasn't grown is an ability for a CEO of an entertainment industry to think beyond its own damn idiocy.
If the industry wants to change, it needs to do the following: -Remove the mindset that the captive audience exists. Long gone are the days of forcing people to pick one show over another, so why still program shows like it exists? Stupid.
-Stop with the idiocy of affecting DVR recordings. The stupid "end a show early or start a show late" to purposely screw with DVR recordings is a fantastic way to ensure people stop using cable services, morons.
-Definitely stop with the 1/3 screen bombardments of whatever show the network is showing next, or tomorrow, or Thursday. Viewers are well informed on what shows the network airs, so stop treating them like they're two.
-Stop with the hiatus crap. If the network can't put out a show consecutively, don't waste our time. Reruns? Save those for future Netflix or Amazon licenses.
-Here's a brain tumor inducing idea to some executives: STOP PAYING ACTORS MORE MONEY THAN THEY'RE WORTH. Pro-tip: most people tune in for the story, not the actors. As we've seen many times, you can replace people without anyone caring (Fresh Prince, Bewitched, Last Man Standing) or completely remove them without anyone caring (Happy Days, Family Matters).
To pay a bunch of kids $1 million each to sit around a damn couch and make jokes is the reason why "commercial time" has grown.
Oh, and one more thing: perhaps, and this is just a recommendation, NBC actually make its own content instead of paying an arm and a leg for other productions?
Netflix is doing it, and NBC should be mindful of this, because once Netflix has enough original content of its own, no one will need NBC anymore.
But do we want the financial system running some general check against common terror groups and references to make sure money isn't falling into their hands? Of course. I laughed at this. Really, I did.
Because take out one word which separates people from common sense: "terror".
Now, re-read it.
In case anyone doesn't get the joke, search Panama Papers.
My post was directed at Reed Hastings, not Techdirt. I often leave out pronouns in cases I feel the subject was established.
In hindsight, I can see how my post was targeted at Karl.
Sorry about that. I generally only target Karl when he's on a rampage to confuse wireless broadband with "unlimited data" because he still believes there's such a thing as "unlimited" ... well, anything, really. >:]