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Oracle vs Google: Copyright Claims Must Remain

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the write-once-sue-everyone dept.

Google 166

swandives writes "More in the Oracle/Google patent infringement saga. Oracle says no court has ever found that APIs for software like Java are ineligible for copyright protection. The claims were made in its objection to Google's request that the court make a summary judgment on Oracle's copyright allegations. In early August, Google asked the judge to rule that Google doesn't infringe Oracle copyright in its implementation of Android. In an objection to that request, Oracle asked the judge to let the charge go to trial. Earlier, Judge Alsup denied Google's attempt to get a potentially damaging e-mail redacted. Looks like this one could take a while."

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Aaaaand, enter full bastardry. (1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183632)

What does this mean for the future of Java users and developers ? will we be oracle's bitches ?

i would like to let anyone know that i wont, if it comes to that.

Re:Aaaaand, enter full bastardry. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183736)

Well, Java was a nice language while it lasted.

Re:Aaaaand, enter full bastardry. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183760)

This is the copyright law equivalent to giving WOPR the launch codes. If a court rules that a company can own an API, then everybody's software becomes infringing!

Re:Aaaaand, enter full bastardry. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184348)

No, everybody who implements a compatible library or creates there own/ships header files would be infringing.

API? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183640)

Why the hell should an API, the computer equivalent of a phone number, qualify for copyright protection?

Implementation behind those, yes. The actual API itself? Well, I guess it's a great end-run against 3rd party reimplementations...

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183738)

Have you ever written an API? Ever admired a well-written one, or hated a poorly-written one? Guess not, or you wouldn't ask that question. It's obviously "the work of an author".

Re:API? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183852)

Have you ever created a phone book? Obviously somebody worked really hard to create it. It's not eligible for copyright either.

Re:API? (0)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183934)

I'm not sure if this is true, but I've read that publishers seed phone books with fictitious information so they can copyright the work and identify future infringement.

Re:API? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183998)

You are actually wrong. Yes, information, such as a phone number or address, is not eligible for copyright protection but that does not mean the phone book as a whole work cannot be copyrighted. You have incorrectly understood the ruling on such things. This is why I can create my own phone book with information copied straight out of, for example, the Yellow Pages but at the same time I can not take a Yellow Pages phone book, scribble out their name, put my own on it and claim it as my own work as the work as a whole can be copyrighted if it meets certain statutory requirements.

Re:API? (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184126)

For some good information you need to read this [wikipedia.org] , this [wikipedia.org] and this [wikipedia.org] . Once you read these then you will understand why you are quite wrong. It's the same reason why one cannot copyright a recipe, but your own expression of that recipe can be copyrighted. The same thing applies to phone books.

Re:API? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183896)

Yes. Yes. Yes.

You are an idiot that clearly has never done any of these.

Otherwise you would know how absurd the concept of copyright on an API really is.

Re:API? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184022)

Unfortunately absurdity is not the relevant standard.

Re:API? (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185682)

When the hell did "you'r e an idiot" posts start qualifying for an upvote of any kind?

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184108)

They're not even talking about the part of the API that manages interactions, they're talking about interface files... Nothing more. How the hell do you copyright an interface file?

Re:API? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184150)

It's obviously "the work of an author".

So is a mathemtatical proof.
But they aren't copyrightable either.

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184674)

A proof is copyrightable. A proof is deeply the same thing as a comuter program. There are thousands of ways to write the same proof, and the idea of the proof may not be copyrightable. But any partiuclar statement of it is.

Re:API? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185014)

A proof is copyrightable. A proof is deeply the same thing as a comuter program. There are thousands of ways to write the same proof, and the idea of the proof may not be copyrightable. But any partiuclar statement of it is.

Precisely like an API.

You can copyright your expression of the proof, but not the proof itself or even the idea used to make the proof.*1

This is how APIs should be treated. A particular expression or documention of one is clearly copyrightable, but the actual function signatures not so much. And anyone can write there own implementation or documentation of an API without violating copyright, just as anyone can write their own mathematical proof without violating copyright.

*1 -- On a bit of tangent:

A software patent attempts to patent the idea expressed by a computer program, but a computer program, as you noted, is "deeply the same thing" as a mathematical proof which is categorically "not patentable". This is why software patents are infuriating and contentious to me.

Re:API? (4, Insightful)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184248)

You totally missed the point. You're talking about copyright on the code implementing the API - while the real topic here is whether or not the API calls (function names) themselves can be copywritten.

And of course the answer is 'no', because that prevents any and all compatible implementations. In fact, you'd be in violation simply for writing a program that called the API - since you have to use the function names in the calling program.

Oracle's lawyers know nothing about programming, apparently. If things worked like they're trying to say they do, Microsoft could sue anyone that made software for Windows because at some point you used a header that included the Windows API function names.

Re:API? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185700)

Oracle's lawyers know nothing about programming, apparently. If things worked like they're trying to say they do, Microsoft could sue anyone that made software for Windows because at some point you used a header that included the Windows API function names.

That's the result they desire. And oddly enough, the FSF appears to take the same position on occasion.

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183742)

Why the hell should an API, the computer equivalent of a phone number, qualify for copyright protection?

Implementation behind those, yes. The actual API itself? Well, I guess it's a great end-run against 3rd party reimplementations...

Because an API is like a patentable 3.5mm jack [slashdot.org] for software, and not like a phone number.

Re:API? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184054)

Please don't confuse copyrights and patents. Despite the stupid term "intellectual property", these are very distinct things.

Re:API? (0)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184638)

Please don't confuse copyrights and patents. Despite the stupid term "intellectual property", these are very distinct things.

Please don't intentionally confuse people by insisting copyrights and patents are fundamentally different and offering no explanation as to how or why.
Despite the different terms and mediums (physical implementation vs written work), they are essentially the same fucking thing.

A copyright gives you the right to produce a copy of a written work.
A patent gives you the right to produce an implementation of a design.
Both things essentially say "This is mine, you can't steal it without paying me.".

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184902)

A copyright gives you the right to produce a copy of a written work.
A patent gives you the right to produce an implementation of a design.

Exactly, so the copyright held by Oracle has nothing to do with Google implementing a system that is API-compatible with Java, unless they copied the code itself.

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185344)

they are essentially the same fucking thing

No, not really. Both are a form of intellectual property protection, but a copyright protects the expression of an idea in a fixed medium, and gives the creator exclusive rights to make copies and/or distribute the work. Patents protect a design or process, and not only does the creator have the exclusive right to copy and distribute the patented design/process, he has the exclusive right to even *use* it.

Re:API? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183750)

There are books on good api design, if you read one of them you will see that there is a lot of creative works involved into the design of a pleasant*1 to use yet generic API, even more so if you want to stay backward compatible. I am pretty sure that a well designed API qualify as a copyrighted worked.

1- Please ignore the Date class as they were young and did not know what persistent horror they unleashed upon the world.

Re:API? (3, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183836)

Java took the C++ api in part. Oracle is arguing that they themselves are commiting copyright infringement.

Re:API? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183916)

...and this here is why copyrights on APIs are a really stupid idea.

The people that came up with this gem must be "code illiterate" for not realizing the broader implications of their idea.

Re:API? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184334)

Ofcourse they don't. If they do succeed, then a crapload of their own software will be considered derivative from LGPL! Oh and I would love to see them defend their own hypocrisy...

Re:API? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183978)

I find the STL and the Java standard class library to be quite different.
Ignoring the alien syntax, Java took more from Smalltalk than they did from C++....

To use a book about car analogy, it like reading a book about combustion engine in English and another book about the same subject written by a different author in German.

Re:API? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184844)

Smalltalk by way of Objective C and OpenStep. OpenStep was a collaboration between NeXT and SUN. The early java libraries looked suspiciously familiar.

Re:API? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185390)

If the book has the same layout of chapters, follows with the same progression of descriptions paragraph by paragraph, it is a plagiarism and copyright infringement. Neither translation to a different language nor rewording of paragraphs of the book while retaining the same information in the same (non-obvious) order are releasing you from the burden of copyright.

 

Re:API? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185628)

here is the index to the stl by SGI :http://www.sgi.com/tech/stl/stl_index_cat.html
there is the same type of index in java : http://download.oracle.com/javase/7/docs/api/allclasses-noframe.html [oracle.com]

in the light of the links I posted, my book analogy was flawed it should have been an English book about the combustion engine and a German one about car subsystems including some chapters on the combustion engine.

Re:API? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183876)

I have designed APIs - it's still a part of my daily job. Yes, it's not something that's easy to do, but I wouldn't say that it's particularly creative, especially for non-novel things (which 99% of Java class library is).

That said, IMO, interoperability here should trump copyright in any case. Copyrighting APIs has a significant negative effect on everyone in the market, because it encourages lock-in, and thereby hinders fair competition.

Re:API? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184010)

I agree with you on:

interoperability here should trump copyright in any case. Copyrighting APIs has a significant negative effect on everyone in the market, because it encourages lock-in, and thereby hinders fair competition.

But that should be written in the laws if it is not already written.

Corruptible (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184990)

True, it should be. But the U.S. Congress has shown itself to be somewhat more corruptible by for-profit special interests than the courts. Copyright in particular suffers from the entertainment industry's control of the means of reaching the electorate [pineight.com] . If we don't want to (ab)use the courts to help clarify the statutes that Congress has enacted into law, I guess we need to fix Congress first [fixcongressfirst.org] .

Re:API? (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184614)

In germany, and I believe in all EU (europe) APIs and "database layout" are explicitly exempt from "copyright".

Looking at projects like "GNU claspath" the logical assumption is that this is also true for the USA.

An API is like the "mains power" supply in a house. The connector can't be under "copyright" or no one would be able to connect his electric power consuming device with a reasonable price to the grid.

angel'o'sphere

Re:API? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184766)

you have sane laws... especially the law on beer purity ;)

here, in Canada, i am not so sure anymore, and in the USA they have fucked up laws!

Re:API? (1)

vranash (594439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185618)

And Germany still has those 'hacking tools' laws covering nmap, nessus and such, correct? I've been having a hard time (for about ten years now!) finding somewhere worth emigrating to that doesn't have some fscked laws that remove them from my list of potential candidates. Sad really, because every year seems to find the US falling further and further into insanity (as it has been since I was in High School, at least. 9/11 changed everything? No, Columbine changed everything.) Where's my pacifier? This IS a nanny state, isn't it? :D

Re:API? (1)

empiricistrob (638862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183846)

Uhm... an API is much more than a phone number. I think equating those two is ridiculous. An API is a huge set of interfaces with specific names and behaviors. A better analogy would be a phone book -- but one that you created from scratch and wasn't based on any public information.

The real point, in my opinion, is whether Oracle *protected* their copyright to the API. It seems to me that Sun/Oracle treated the API more-or-less like it was public domain. I never accepted an agreement that stated I only had permission to read the API docs for use with an approved JVM. This is sort of like publishing a short story on the internet, it goes viral and is used by tens of thousands of people (reposted on blogs, etc), and then ten years later someone puts it a book and the original author claims that it's copyright infringement. Typically with IP law you have to protect your IP or you loose your rights.

doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183932)

An API is a huge set of interfaces with specific names and behaviors.

A good API is nimble, lightweight, and efficient. If you think it's huge, you're doing it wrong.

Re:doing it wrong (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184716)

An API is a huge set of interfaces with specific names and behaviors.

A good API is nimble, lightweight, and efficient. If you think it's huge, you're doing it wrong.

Wrong. A good API is:

Functional
Covering
Fast

Whether or not the API is "lightweight" is more a testament to whether or not your application/service is trivial and pointless.
Arguing for lightweight over functionality and coverage is like arguing for a keyboard with fewer keys. Who needs that fucking Q anyway?

Re:API? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183946)

An API is a huge set of interfaces with specific names and behaviors

And you can copyright the implementation of those APIs, and the shiny books that document them. But the APIs themselves cannot sanely be copyrighted (being arbitrary identifiers with specific parameters and expected outputs) otherwise reverse engineering of ALL kinds (WINE, etc.) would be illegal.

Re:API? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185586)

You can also copyright header files that define these APIs. And the files would "enjoy" the same protection as books and such - mere renaming of everything, shuffling the order around or changing comments, without actually breaking the gist - the underlying concept - will be recognized as plagiarism. As long as your file does, every single thing the original file does, you're clearly in the black.

This is bad. Oracle has a solid point here.
Of course asserting copyright on API is both extremely stupid and extremely evil. APIs fundamental purpose is to be open.

Reverse-engineering is different here. You take an observed behavior and write code that seems to do the same thing. You don't really know if it does the same thing. If it does, good for you, but you create it from scratch and are never completely sure if you missed anything. Not a copy but a replacement. You got a lock, old and worn, and you make a key that fits that lock. The key will be unique and possibly quite different from the original - some stuck tumbler will be missed, some worn one will have a different depth, another will barely fit within tolerances.

OTOH, API must conform to specs. You get the specs of the lock and the key, and you create a key that follows the specs exactly. It will be an identical copy of the original one. The fact not one is a copy of the other but they both are derived strictly and exactly from the same abstract data is moot here.

Re:API? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185608)

The identifiers aren't arbitrary to people, only to compilers. They tell the story of the API. They are human readable, and their selection and combination into the "nouns" and "verbs" of the API are the expressive part of API design.

If you take an API and replace all the identifiers with arbitrary symbols, then I can't see how you are infringing. You are taking the idea, and completely changin the expression.

But are you allowed to copy not only the API design (which is probably not subject to copyright), but all the names of classes, interfaces, types and exceptions?

If so are you allowed to take a literal copy of the API specification (e.g. header files), or must you re-write them?

The best argument for copyrightability is that particular identifiers used in the API constitute a protected expression of the idea of the API, and you're free to copy the idea and change the arbitrary identifiers to something else. Of course this result is pretty darn bad, as two expressions of the same API ideas would not be compatible.

Re:API? (1)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185374)

Has there been any patent or copyright case in the United States (or similar western nation) in which ownership was legally weakened because the clearly identified author delayed in enforcing their rights? The only problem I'm aware of is that if a word did go viral then the author will have to prove that they did indeed author the work in question. That could be tricky if all they have as evidence is the time stamp of a file saved on their hard drive.

Re:API? (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183848)

I believe you're not thinking this properly. An API is a piece of software, just as any other. Given the current state of affairs, why shoulnd't it be subject of copyright? Perhaps you're thinking "But an API is only an Java interface, no implementation!" I say: so? Even if it an API was so simple (it's not; it includes input/ouput parameters, exceptions, a usage definition, documentation, and so on), why would the simplicity of something prevent it from being subject of copyright? Hint: comparisons with one-click-purchase do not apply.

Furthermore, an API is not the equivalent of a phone number. An accurate analogy is this: an API is to a piece of software what the keyboard is to the phone.

Re:API? (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185566)

APIs are a 2-way street. You publish an API and distribute header files as part of an SDK, you make it easy for third party application developers to develop applications for your platform. It also makes it rather straight forward for another platform developer to emulate your API so that those same 3rd party apps, written to your API can be run on their platform. In the case of Java, Sun/Oracle also released and distributed the API and the whole JVM source code under a GPL license. So this made emulation of Java Class Libraries trivial. To now claim copyright infringement is absurd.
Again - this is not new. When Tim Paterson wrote 86-DOS (MS-DOS) he did it with an API programming manual for the yet to be released Digital Research CP/M-86 on his desk and basically emulated the system calls (which is one reason for some of the arcane crap that was in DOS for years afterwards).

Re:API? (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184008)

It's more like claiming copyright on the individual words one used to write a creative story.

Computer languages should not be copyrightable, because copyright requires that the work be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Just as individual words can be taken from one work and rearranged to create a wholly separate, noninfringing one, so too should computer language grammar, syntax, keywords, etc. be available for others to reuse.

If Oracle claims copyright over individual Java language elements, regardless of how they are arranged, is their next step to claim they own the copyright to any program written in Java?

Now, this is a bit different than the trouble Microsoft got in when they used their embrace, extend, and exterminate strategy with Java. As I understand that, MS had a license, and used code from Sun's implementation of the Java language, it was not a clean room implementation based on the formal language definition (APIs).

Re:API? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184086)

Why the hell should an API, the computer equivalent of a phone number, qualify for copyright protection?

An API is not the "equivalent of a phone number". Not even close. It's clearly a creative work. The question is whether it is too abstract to be protected by copyright. "Copyright protection is not available for ideas, program logic, algorithms, systems, methods, concepts, or layouts.", says the Copyright Office. It might be patentable, if sufficiently original, but that's not an issue here.

Copyright in fictional characters [publaw.com] has been tried, occasionally with success. That's one of the broadest forms of copyright protection. Trademarking the name of the character provides more protection, which is why we see Darth Vader(tm) markings. That doesn't apply to an API.

Re:API? (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184416)

An API is just a list of function prototypes and the type definitions they depend on. The only reason function names are required is that so far there isn't a general semantic langauge that specifies (simply, and with clarity) the preconditions and postconditions of the functions, so the linker needs a way to bind calls to the appropriate functions instead of just pattern matching based on formal semantics.

If "type_1 function_name_1(type_2, type_3, type_4, type_5) ..." is your idea of copyrightable content, then I have some very boring novels to sell you.

Google stole Java, and everyone knows it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183714)

It's completely fucking obvious, they need to pony up, or when the hammer falls, the Android platform and the entire ecosystem will be destroyed.

The Microsoft java case set enough precedent. Google basically went ahead with "we're above the law, because we are big enough to be", because they didn't see Sun as a powerful enough entity to challenge them.

Theives. Liars. Bad tech. Sloppy coders. It's a fucking marketing company, and not a very reputable one.

F google.

Hi Florian Mueller! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183786)

FYI, you forgot to log in.

Re:Hi Florian Mueller! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183882)

Screw you, I'm too busy holding my ankles for Larry to take the time to login.

Re:Google stole Java, and everyone knows it (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184060)

FUD.

Microsoft's problem was that they contaminated the API with proprietary extensions and still claimed it to be JAVA Standard compatible. Nothing more, nothing less.

Google gone another way. They re-implemented the whole thing (see Dalvik).

Oracle is pursuing a new way of litigating probably because Motorola's acquisition by Google armed them with a fearsome portfolio of patents - almost a insurance of mutual destruction.

Re:Google stole Java, and everyone knows it (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184670)

The Microsoft - Sun Java case was a contract / licensing dispute not a Patent / Copyright infringement suit. From what I recall, Microsoft licensed Java, implemented their own, polluted run time environment and JVM while continuing to call it Java, which violated the terms of their Java license. Sun won an injunction against MS and eventually settled out of court. MS and then phased out Java in favor of .NET, which from an IP perspective is not all that different than Java, Dalvik or Mono, etc.

In Google's case, they are not propagating a polluted JVM under the Java name in violation of a license. Rather they have created a cross compiler for the Java language that generates Dalvik byte code which is dynamically linked to the Dalvik (Apache Harmony) class libraries and a JIT compiler and Dalvik JVM that execute the Dalvik bytecode on the mobile device. To be clear - Oracle is not asserting that Dalvik is a faulty implementation of Java. Rather they are asserting that the programming constructs, algorithms and "inventions" used in Dalvik were invented by Sun and protected by software patents. Oracle is ALSO making certain copyright claims against Google, but I don't see these progressing very far as they are asserting copyright infringement primarily on test interfaces and APIs.

The Dalvik model is really no different from any other VM based platform. Mono - is an open source implementation of the .NET virtual machine. Grasshopper is a Visual Studio plug-in and compiler that produces Java bytecode so that you can run .NET applications on a Linux/J2EE application server. Parot is a cross platform VM that was originally developed for Perl and Python, but now supports compiler frontends for a variety of languages including Java. IKVM is an implementation of Java over Mono for .NET. Sun at one point was going to develop a JVM for iOS, but didn't go ahead with it. The combinations of IDE, bytecode compiler / converter, class library API emulation or Run Time Environment, Virtual Machine and JIT compliler are endless: C#/Visual basic/CLI on a Dalvik VM, Objective C on .NET, Java on iOS, Perl/Python on Mono/.NET, etc. etc.

Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183762)

Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel, Inc. 10th Circ., 1997 In this case, the court found for the , saying that (1) menu structure of a computer program was an uncopyrightable process under 102(b), that (2) there was a merger between its idea and the limited number of ways in which it could be expressed, and that (3) the work lacked originality. It lacked originality because the command codes comprised a method of achieving a certain result based on call controller’s functions, the carrier’s technical demands, and the telephone customer’s choice.

Re:Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184208)

Wrong. Menu structure is not a software API (Application Programming Interface).

Re:Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184816)

The above menu structure was command line. So yeah it was an Application programming interface. It was more of an API than java is.

Re:Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (1)

bongey (974911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184230)

Just dove into the US Copyright Office.
IMPO an API is combination of a name and architecture copyright.
"No. Names are not protected by copyright law."http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#band
Copyright law also also forbids architectural copyrights for
"structures other than buildings, such as bridges, cloverleafs, dams, walkways, tents, recreational vehicles, mobile homes, and boat "

Re:Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184750)

Trademark could protect keywords if you appended your mark to them. For example org.apache.struts2.components; has the apache mark in it.

Re:Mitel, Inc. v. Iqtel (1)

nbossett (1835098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184992)

I would hope that courts wouldn't accept a claim that interoperability defenses are void if an API function call (at the compiled executable level you need to link to) happens to be named after a particular vendor or requires you to pass the brand name of a particular vendor into every call and that only people they license to use their name are allowed to use it in that context.

A trademark cannot be used as an ersatz copyright (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185100)

A trademark cannot be used as an ersatz copyright. Sega v. Accolade; Dastar v. Fox.

As for the use of namespaces within org.apache: The name "org.apache.struts2.components" just refers to "components of Struts2 published by ASF", and referring to something is an acceptable use of a trademark [wikipedia.org] . I'd imagine that the use of the Apache mark in an imported namespace doesn't confuse people as to what specific part of a particular program is endorsed by ASF.

  • If you say " package org.apache.struts2.whatever" you're saying "this is part of an ASF product" which may mislead readers of the code.
  • But if you say " import org.apache.struts2.whatever" you're saying "this is a complementary good [wikipedia.org] to Struts2 and no more endorsed by ASF than any other complementary good".

Why does Oracle care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183838)

Can anyone explain why Oracle care so much about this? Are they in a proxy-battle for someone? They are after all a database vendor, right?

Re:Why does Oracle care? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183878)

Than plan to get money out of Google. They want a share of Googles mobile add revenue. Android pretty much destroyed their mobile Java app buisness.

Re:Why does Oracle care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184024)

Wouldn't that be the former Sun's mobile Java app business?

Re:Why does Oracle care? (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184140)

I beg your pardon, but...

The J2ME market destroyed itself. Confusing, locked down, artificially and arbitrarily limited. It was projected and implemented to meet carriers expectations and manufacturer's interest, not costumers'.

If Android didn't came in, another one would did it. Hell, perhaps even Windows Mobile Phone would be a good thing. =)

Re:Why does Oracle care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184430)

I work in a Java shop, do almost all of my development in Java and have written a few J2ME apps. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I would give up the ghost and move to .NET or something else before I'd get a job writing J2ME again. It was a nightmare. People think Android has fragmentation issues? It's a godsend compared to J2ME where you couldn't get consistent APIs, you'd have Java 1.2... plus a little bit of Java 1.3 randomly mixed in and that's what you were coding to.

Re:Why does Oracle care? (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184774)

Add to that emulators that doesn't correctly meet targets behavior and you're basically... SCREWED UP.

You never know if your program will, in fact, works on the target device until trying on it.

And since *no* J2ME devices (at least, to my acknowledge) allows device debugging or any kind of KVM's error monitoring by the independent developer (where's the manufacturer's developers have access to that), you have to use any resources you can imagine (from Ouijas to Black Magic) to try to figure out what the hell is going on.

Last year, one program of mine crashed on a (at that time) prototype from recently famoused manufacturer of (cheap) mobiles. That God damned program works on every other mobile we had in hands, except that fscking one (obviously, our chop was hired to build a feature program to be embedded exactly in that fscking model!). After almost a month of emailing and incompetence accusations, I managed (using social tricks that almost smelled as deception and traffic of influence) to discover the KVM's manufacturer by asking for an KVM's error report (basically, the stack dump of the killer exception) directly to one of the manufacturer's firmware developers (I don't know what my boss did to manage that, and I will never ask).

With the KVM's manufacturer's name, I found the products's bug tracking where a very known bug with LWUIT was reported, and a workaround published. 30 minutes after, I got my application "fixed", tested and shipped.

But what really seriously pissed me off is that the KVM's institutional page had all the mobile models that uses it - so why in Devil's name this information was omitted by the manufacture's support team was a mystery to my until we heard rumors that our costumer had asked the manufacturer's development team for the application first, but didn't agreed with the conditions. ;-)

I have, simply, not a single drop of sympathy or pity for any J2ME related business. They're going down by their own hands.

Re:Why does Oracle care? (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185314)

So are you saying that rather than:

FTFA, Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect: "Java, you know, is, in my mind, pretty well locked out of the smartphone market because of Android..."

This should read:

FTFA, Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect: "Java, you know, is, in my mind, pretty well locked out of the smartphone market because of our own incompentance..."

API Copyright? (2)

Kylon99 (2430624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183842)

If APIs are found to be protected under copyright, won't this mean something like Mono C# violates copyright as well?

And what about a DirectX emulator for Linux for example?

This doesn't sound right. These 3rd party APIs are, to me at least, the software equivalent of reverse engineering. Figuring out how the original works by providing emulation. This should be protected behavior or else it will be easier for companies to inadvertently gain new monopolies...

Re:API Copyright? (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183888)

What about Java itself. Seem pretty similer to C to me.

Re:API Copyright? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184118)

If APIs are found to be protected under copyright, won't this mean something like Mono C# violates copyright as well?

The court didn't say "APIs are protected by copyright". The court said "there is no rule that APIs are never protected by copyright, therefore Google's request for summary judgement is rejected. The court will have to examine Oracle's APIs and then make a decision whether that particular API is copyright protected or not".

It will depend on the amount of creativity that went into writing the API. Now writing a good API is hard work and greatly appreciated, but that doesn't mean the author should be creative. It's more like a good API is not creative at all. On the other hand, a badly written API can be very creative and would then deserve copyright protection.

Re:API Copyright? (1)

Kylon99 (2430624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184292)

The court didn't say "APIs are protected by copyright".

This I am well aware of, but it seems that there is a chance to decide that APIs are copyrightable. Regardless of how 'creative' APIs are, I believe that as the point of inter-operability, they need to be non-copyrightable in order to allow people to reverse engineer. I can see how the courts cannot offer a summary judgement, but at the same time I don't have much faith in the U.S. court system to always come up with the right decision...

By the way. and this is just a side point, but there are 'creative' works out there that are non-copyrightable, such as culinary recipes.
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html [copyright.gov]

We may need a lawyer to speak up on this, but it seems that the creative work would be the food itself, and the mere listing of its ingredients aren't copyrightable. Maybe the API definition will fall under this, being merely a list of functions and not the actual code itself.

Re:API Copyright? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184768)

I don't think the court has said anything yet. The above is Oracles argument against summary judgement. It is not the courts statement.

No court has ever found ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183902)

Its just that courts don't do abstraction - look at the wiki for the Borland vs. Lotus case -

"The court also considered the impact of their decision on users of software. If menu hierarchies were copyrightable, users would be required to learn how to perform the same operation in a different way for every program, which the court finds "absurd." Additionally, all macros would have to be re-written for each different program, which places an undue burden on users.[4]"

A reasonable ruling in this case would be similar: (using cut and paste similar to the way I code)
"The court also considered the impact of their decision on users of software. If software APIs were copyrightable, developers would be required to learn how to program the same operation in a different way for every language (a new one of which would be required for every company), which the court finds "absurd." Additionally, all software would have to be re-written for each different program, which places an undue burden on developers.[4]"

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Dev._Corp._v._Borland_Int%27l,_Inc.

Goodbye Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183918)

"write once run nowhere"
html5 bring it on!

Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184068)

I've been following this case a tad, and I must say that I can't see why hasn't Google just ditched Java and fully adopt Go.

Is it because of a) Go's maturity or b) Go is not suitable for smartphones and the like or c) it would be pretty expensive at this point to revert stuff already in production, etc.

I don't know, but I am most likely missing something here and I guess it would be cool to use Go on a smartphone the way we use Java.

Re:Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185244)

I don't know, but I am most likely missing something here and I guess it would be cool to use Go on a smartphone the way we use Java.

Google Go is a much worse language than Java actually. It's error handling is really weak, encouraging programmers to ignore errors, not document them, or handle them when they happen despite not knowing what the caller wants to do with them. Meanwhile it's automatic implementation of interfaces makes dispatch ridiculously slow (~80 cycles to call a Google Go interface method vs ~1.2 cycles in Java). Module versioning is basically non-existent so you have to compile in all the modules your program depends on.

On top of that Google Go has a syntax that looks like crap. Code that properly handles errors is about twice as verbose as C, and Google Go syntax is supposedly lighter. The whole language is shit and if Google decides to use it for Android they'd be competing with hands tied behind their back.

Oracle should know better (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184072)

Oracle says no court has ever found that APIs for software like Java are ineligible for copyright protection.

That's not the issue here. No body ever said APIs for software like Java are ineligible for copyright protection.

There are precedents in matters of law. This could be well be one of them. Oracle should know better.

I even have concerns about Oracle's confusing statements about Java. Java can mean the language, the VM or the libraries associated with it or even the combination of everything I have mentioned.

When Oracle says, "Google Chooses To Base Its Android Platform On Java Without Taking A License", one wonders what they are really talking about. I certainly need no license to use the Java language. Do I?

Re:Oracle should know better (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184332)

If api headers and primatives are "copyrighted", and "derivative works" are prosecuted under copyright law (how do you prove your implementation of Free() is not a derivative work of the oracle java implementation?) Then making use of the language (you DO have a valid license to read and replicate the API calls, right?) could well require draconian contract law to undertake.

What I would see come out of this is a creative commons based comminuty api set (probably based on other languages) released by the FSF, to combat the "if you want to program, pay up bitch" shitfest that would come about as big companies claim ownership of C, Java, .net, python and pals.

The sad part is I wouldn't put it past companies like Apple to say dumb things like "if you want to develop for our platforms, you have to use our languages and apis, and so also need to enter a contract to license our oh so special IP." On top of the "pay us 30% off the gross of your appstore sales" shenannigans.

If they could get away with it, I don't see why they wouldn't enforce it.

On the flipside, since linux kernel apis have already effectively been granted gratis use by Linus and the linux foundation, such moves might spell utterly desasterous for the companies that try it.

Embrace Extend Extinguish (0)

aralin (107264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184116)

Google did to Java on Phones exactly what we criticized Microsoft for through all those years of Slashdot existence. They took the API, they partially implemented them, then made their own incompatibilities, then took over the market with their incompatible implementation. Do No Evil? I don't think so.

This is the exact same type of case as Netscape vs IE. And they will probably get away with it. Sun wanted a very modest license for Java and Google certainly could afford to pay, but they are comprised of so many hackers that think everything should be open source and free and if they can re-implement it, then there is no harm done. But clearly that is not the case as we plainly saw when Microsoft destroyed Netscape and took over the market. The same is happening now with Google, Palm is gone, now WebOS is gone too, Symbian is as good as dead, Blackberry OS will soon follow and Windows on Mobile is laughable and if it wouldn't be for Apple, then Android would already be the only game in town. There used to be a whole set of Java based phones and Java apps on a variety of mobile OSes and they are all gone thanks to this shameful E.E.E. tactics.

I don't understand how can we still cheer Google even though they are clearly in the wrong here.

Wait a minute: (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184222)

Google did to Java on Phones exactly what we criticized Microsoft for through all those years of Slashdot existence.

Not exactly: -

First, Google made the code open source.
Second, Google never proclaimed JavaVM compatibility.

That's a far cry from Microsoft's behaviors.

They took the API, they partially implemented them, then made their own incompatibilities, then took over the market with their incompatible implementation.

While I agree with this, it is not illegal. After all, everything was open source according to SUN.

Next please.

Re:Wait a minute: (1)

aralin (107264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184938)

And again the magic word open source as if it would solve all the problems and bring world peace.

The fact remains that Davlik does not run Java programs properly, it is intentionally incompatible. The very reason why Java license only allows full implementations of the entire API, so this fragmentation would not happen. Open sourcing it does not change it one bit, since there is nothing that can be done about it.

And actually it is illegal. Same argument as we always use with GPL applies. You don't have a copyright unless granted by the Java license, if you break the license you don't have any rights to the copyrighted material.

That is the essence of the case.

Re:Wait a minute: (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185142)

The fact remains that Davlik does not run Java programs properly, it is intentionally incompatible.

Does it have to? Not at all. Dalvik is NOT Java. Not in the least, and Google has never claimed it is. Get the distinction?

The very reason why Java license only allows full implementations of the entire API, so this fragmentation would not happen.

So that means that if I do not want 'full implementation' of Java, I do not need to get a license...or do I? Please tell me. I agree with your assertion in the last sentence about fragmentation though.

Authors of C# never called it Java at all, though it borrows many bits and pieces from Java. Have a look [25hoursaday.com] for yourself.

Tell me: Should Oracle sue C# authors over these class names as well?

Re:Wait a minute: (1)

aralin (107264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185368)

From developer.android.com the first sentence of Application Fundamentals: "Android applications are written in the Java programming language." So much for Google never claiming ...

Second you only get a license for Java if you do a full implementation. Otherwise you don't get one. And if you still go ahead you are in violation of Sun' IP.

C# is completely different case. If Google came with their own language instead of using Java, even if it was similar and used similar syntax or class names, I don't think there would be any legal action even though it would violate some of the patents probably.

But this blatant case of attack on Java while trying to piggyback on the infrastructure, tools and libraries developed for Java at the same time is shameful and we should call Google on it instead of trying to defend them. That is just my opinion though.

Re:Wait a minute: (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185762)

..."Android applications are written in the Java programming language."...

This is not in dispute at all. They could also be written in C, C++, Python and a number of other languages. There is no legal problem in writing an app in the Java language (read "using Java syntax and semantics").

Second you only get a license for Java if you do a full implementation. Otherwise you don't get one. And if you still go ahead you are in violation of Sun' IP.

Not exactly, this is probably what you meant: -

You only get a license for Java (meaning the VM), if you do a full implementation of the Java VM. Otherwise you don't get one. And if you still go ahead you are in violation of Sun' IP.

Google does not implement the Java VM. Google only uses it to produce bytecode which it then 'translates' to Dalvik bytecode.

I repeat: Google does not implement the Java VM and nothing binds Google to implementing the Java VM afer using the Java language initially, which as mentioned earlier, is legal.

Re:Embrace Extend Extinguish (3, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184274)

It's slightly different. Google didn't market it as Google Java, and in fact took pains to say that "the syntax looks like Java but it is compiled to run on the Dalvik VM".

Re:Embrace Extend Extinguish (3, Insightful)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184366)

Do even know what the issue with Sun vs Microsoft was? Misrepresentation and inappropriate use of Java trademark. Microsoft called their version of Java - Java. That was the main issue, although their Java continues existence in the form of J++.

Do No Evil? I don't think so.

FYI: Google's moto is "Don't be evil" not "Do no evil".

Re:Embrace Extend Extinguish (2)

Briareos (21163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185640)

FYI: Google's moto is "Don't be evil" not "Do no evil".

Actually Google's "moto" is "rola"...

Re:Embrace Extend Extinguish (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184492)

How?

Google used a free VM and an api from Apache. They were all freely available. Now Oracle is suing them for using a product that they do not even own?? Of course they are going to create their own API to access parts of the phone. Every programmer writes one to do things in their program and I do not see how what Google did was different.

Now if they made a Java like langauge and called it Java but was purposedly incompatible to force users to use Google's java that would be different. That is not the case

A license, yes, but what license? (1)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184888)

I strongly doubt that Sun would have given google the kind of open, transferable license that Google needed. Sun always tried to keep strict control over what you could do with"Java". Any license they could get would have left google with constant headache.
When the only thing they would have got for such a license would have been the name Java, why would they?

Re:Embrace Extend Extinguish (1)

aralin (107264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185380)

Nice to see that so many moderators still think that down vote is a disagree button. :)

Trial by battle! (1)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184228)

Personally, I am of the belief that this should be settled via some intense Quake 3 tourney play. Just claim it's a match over the JScrollPane class, or something.

Re:Trial by battle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184694)

See, you're on to something good, but you screw it up by choosing a video game.

Trial by Battle is an EXCELLENT idea! All the RIAA/MPAA/BSA execs, together with their lawyers (at least those that didn't repent), on one side of the battlefield, armed with sharpened pencils and using attache cases as shields, the pirates on the other end, armed with whatever IP-infringing armaments and defenses they can come up with. Then let the battle commence.

What about Oracle vs AT&T? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184288)

If Oracle is proposing that the APIs are copyright protected, then what about their use of the C APIs that they publish with their Oracle database? Would that not be an infringement of AT&T's copyrights? Likewise, Oracle software uses and provides hooks for various Windows APIs. Does that mean Oracle owes royalties to Microsoft?

Android stifles the creation of an oPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184298)

FTFA, Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect:

"Java, you know, is, in my mind, pretty well locked out of the smartphone market because of Android..."

should read:

"Oracle has never tried to get into the smartphone market before, and we should automatically be as successful as other companies who have already been in the market for years."

Usual misleading headline (2)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184330)

Oracle have asked the court to rule that the copyright claim should remain.

It's a standard reply brief, nothing to see here until the court make a ruling.

and python prospers (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184418)

No wonder I see more and more requests for Python instead of Java. Oracle's policy of feuding with everybody including their friends is making Python a more and more attractive alternative.

-1 Incorrect (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184930)

Alsup did not deny Googles request - he said it was up to the magistrate judge (who he has handed off discovery issues to) to make a decision. Google and Oracle are still fighting like cats and dogs over the issue.

And the copyright brief is a brief, not a ruling, so this issue is still yet to be decided.

Maybe Slashdot contributors should leave legal reporting to the professionals [groklaw.net] ...

Isn't it just like a user interface? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185028)

I seem to recall something about user interfaces not being copyrightable a la the old Excel/Lotus 1-2-3 case?
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