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Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the what-do-you-think-now? dept.

Oracle 198

sl4shd0rk writes "In 2012, Oracle took Google to court over Java. In the balance hung the legalities of writing code to mimic the functionality of copyrighted software. The trial was set to determine how all future software would be written (and by whom). Oracle's entire case boiled down to an inadvertent 9 lines of code; an argument over a simple and basic comparison of a range of numbers. The presiding judge (who had some background in writing software) didn't buy it stating he had 'written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before.' A victory for more than just Google. This week, however, Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp have filed for appeal and seek to reverse the ruling. It's not looking good as the new bevy of judges Indicating they may side with Oracle on the issue."

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198 comments

Death of the small guy (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#45606847)

Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

Re: Death of the small guy (5, Funny)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 5 months ago | (#45606893)

I've had women slap me just for thinking about something.

Re: Death of the small guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45606923)

I've had women slap me just for thinking about something.

So appeal it before a eunuch judge and have her ordered to comply.

Re: Death of the small guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45606925)

Are you sure you didn't say it out loud?

Re: Death of the small guy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607331)

I've had women slap me just for thinking about something.

Running "rangeCheck" on women will often get that response.

Re: Death of the small guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607619)

Yea, but you weren't wearing pants!

Re:Death of the small guy (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#45606955)

Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

I believe that's the point.

By the time these large companies patent everything and claim ownership of 'innovations' which had been around for years or were widespread knowledge already, the goal is to more or less ensure there's not a damned thing you can do with technology for which you won't be beholden to them.

It's rent-seeking on a large scale, and the governments are just handing it over to them.

At a certain point, it will be impossible for new companies to create anything at all, because the web of patents and the like will be so extensive we'll have only a few large players.

Welcome to the oligarchy of the future. It will only keep getting worse.

Re:Death of the small guy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607093)

Can nigger grease be removed? If you have ever gone to a swimming pool only to find that a bunch of blacks are already swimming in it then you know what nigger grease is all about. It is easiest to see right after they exit the water. It's a thin film on the surface of the water deposited by the vast quantities of oil that niggers either produce naturally or smear all over themselves for no apparent reason (maybe their shitty nappy frizzy ugly hair?). Seriously we can be carbon neutral tomorrow if we found a way to make biodiesel out of it as the supply is abundant. Anyway, if you swim in a pool like that you will feel yourself coated with the nigger grease. It is not pleasant. Can Corexit and new oil spill breakthroughs remove even KFC-fortified nigger grease?

Re:Death of the small guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607105)

Oh no, don't worry. Your economy will be in the toilet long before we arrive in "the future".

Re:Death of the small guy (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607209)

Juries keep handing it to them. They are the ones who keep finding for the prosecution so often in infringement cases.

Re:Death of the small guy (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607403)

Now federal judges can be appointed by Obama with no Senate interference. The DNC just said it only takes 50 votes, so they don't even have to pretend to appoint fair judges to get a couple GOP votes. Literally the highest bidder can get any judge appointed by paying the DNC, yes the SAME DNC that sold missile secrets to China for campaign donations in the 90s.

And the reason for that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607525)

Is the RNC's stated and primary aim of ensuring that the Obama administration can get nothing done.

Re:And the reason for that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607715)

Well if you agree with $85 Billion a month being printed and given to the 1%, along with this court ruling being overturned, and the NSA spying, I could understand you not wanting the GOP to stop anything.

If you are one of the other 99.5% of us, stopping the current DNC trampling on the middle class and rights MIGHT just be the right thing to do at the moment.

Re:Death of the small guy (2)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 5 months ago | (#45608013)

so they don't even have to pretend to appoint fair judges

Fair Judges? Those same fair judges that the Chamber of Commerce chooses for us? Or those fair judges that get kicked out once called "activist judges" for making otherwise perfectly normal decisions that some member of the "business" community hates? Tell me again who the highest bidder is? [npr.org] This stuff isn't trying to read tea leaves...

Re:Death of the small guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607405)

'Twas ever thus. Monarchy,,oligarchy, and fascism masquerading as democracy or technocracy and socialism have ruled for over 100 years now, in their present forms, and before the Enlightenment, there was, of course, much less need for pretense and bamboozle. With the technological advances in mass state surveillance that would make an ancient Borgia green with envy, there may be much less need, again. Thus we now have bloggers pandering to tech nabobs [slashdot.org] like Ellison or Schmidt.

Me, I'm hanging on to my flag, my guns and my copies of Knuth. And I still think that removing copyright and patents from Constitiutions would take the wind out of the real pirates' sails and would be worth the risks of Conventions.

Re:Death of the small guy (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#45607713)

This is only going to hurt in the long run.

Code is going to be written. It will just be written in countries that don't have the non-functional [1] IP laws, and the products sold from there.

This reminds me of the 1990s and how cryptography development was stifled in the US by ITAR laws. It didn't stop crypto development. What happened was that Russia, Germany, and even China started on the process.

The same thing would happen again. It just means that innovation in coding moves to other countries, perhaps China, Russia, the Ukraine, Brazil, or elsewhere.

Of course, the genie can be put back in the bottle -- locked down devices can prevent code that hasn't been vetted to run, and on desktops, mandatory DRM stacks would ensure the laws are enforced regardless of borders.

[1]: Well, functional for a few, but not as a gestalt.

Re:Death of the small guy (2)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 5 months ago | (#45607801)

If nine lines of code replicated in some fashion (out of presumably millions) is a copyright violation, the other companies with enough capital should launch discovery suits demanding to search every project Oracle has ever performed for any duplicate code from others' copyrights. Software copyrights should be abolished anyway.

Re:Death of the small guy, innovation, open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607749)

Microsoft, why I'm I not surprised they are behind this as well. So much for there PR, BS, over being supportive of open source. Great comments by you do not have any points and it is marked as a 5. At the same time Google has been a free loader off of other innovations, especially when it comes to open source software..

With Apple, and MS being in bed together, I would be surprised to find out Apple is quietly pushing for this to happen as well, seeing how both are facing an uphill battle with what appears to be an Android take over in the future.

And yet Obama and the rest of the politicians still talk out the ass about doing something, but even if they did, you know they will put giant loopholes in any reform so this stuff will continue.

Re:Death of the small guy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607035)

int i;
* door explodes *
"oracle police! hands off the keyboard and lie down on the floor!"

Re:Death of the small guy (5, Funny)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 5 months ago | (#45607221)

Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

I thought of posting that comment first. Expect to hear from my lawyer.

Re:Death of the small guy (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#45607425)

I will need to remap all my commands. So things like + - * / will need to be A S M D but that might be used already perhaps I need to get more creative and use the last letter in the word, it is already used go back one letter until it fits... so it would be D T Y E

Bull hockey (5, Insightful)

pegr (46683) | about 5 months ago | (#45606875)

Copyright covers creative expressions, not functionality. If I write code identical to yours given only a description of what the code should do, the code is not creative enough for copyright.

Re:Bull hockey (2)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 5 months ago | (#45607033)

One is not required to provide a complete copy of source code for programs exceeding 50 pages of code, 'creativity' is simply not a factor. If someone attempts to prove prior art that's a different factor. One does not have to prove creativity in advance, they only have to defend originality and that's only when it's called into question.

As far as I'm concerned the discussion is irrelevant. Nine lines of code isn't sufficient to prove anything.

Re:Bull hockey (1)

pegr (46683) | about 5 months ago | (#45607177)

"If someone attempts to prove prior art that's a different factor"

Yes, and a factor that does not influence copyrightability in the slightest. Perhaps you are thinking of patents? Oracle's patent claims died in the first trial, and they are not appealing that part of the decision. All that remains is copyright. And APIs are purely functional, not creative.

Re:Bull hockey (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 5 months ago | (#45607943)

Prior art was a bad choice of words though you seem to be disagreeing with me for the sake of it. Perhaps I should have said plagiarism. Regardless: Your conclusion "APIs are purely functional, not creative," and mine "'creativity' is simply not a factor'...

Re:Bull hockey (1)

sribe (304414) | about 5 months ago | (#45607505)

... 'creativity' is simply not a factor.

It absolutely, positively is a core requirement for copyright. It's in the statute, and the principle has been upheld in many, many trials.

Re:Bull hockey (1)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | about 5 months ago | (#45608171)

Blanket statements with no evidence are great right? I've personally have never heard of someone being unable to obtain copyright for a large piece of software because nine lines of code weren't creative. Or are you arguing that Java as a whole wasn't creative? So, I'll bite, please enlighten me.

What I think you'll find is that copyright law uses the term "original" not "creative" if you were to actually look. First paragraph of copyright law that I see even discussing this is as such: "Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

Re:Bull hockey (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#45607131)

I fear once they get the courts to agree to this, copyright will be essentially extended to include functionality.

They're acting like interfaces should be something you can copyright, despite most of them having initially stolen/borrowed the interfaces that had already been put into languages before they got there.

These companies do not want open standards and interoperability, they want closed systems and a complete inability for people to make other products.

Re:Bull hockey (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607223)

Closed systems wouldn't be so bad. The problem is legal ambiguity about what is or is not allowed.

Re:Bull hockey (0)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 5 months ago | (#45607673)

Closed systems wouldn't be so bad. The problem is legal ambiguity about what is or is not allowed.

I take it you're an Apple fan.

Re:Bull hockey (0)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607851)

Yes. But I had that opinion long before I was an Apple fan (OSX 10.1 days). I really like the functionality that Flash, Java applets, Active X (security obviously required)... offered. Javascript in being an open standard is taking something like 10-100x as much CPU to do the same thing.

I really liked the Windows world had 3 office suites that offered different features the others didn't. I used AmiPro (part of the Lotus office suite) because I loved genuine PostScript fonts and the better equation editing (at the time) that offered. On the other hand I appreciated the tremendous work that Microsoft did in getting OLE to work across Office products today. Those were closed systems, there is no way to have compatibility with different feature sets. Lotus couldn't have worked with lowest common denominator fonts like Bitstream. Microsoft couldn't have gotten OLE to work without using the internals of applications.

Re:Bull hockey (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45608189)

I really like the functionality that Flash, Java applets, Active X (security obviously required)... offered. Javascript in being an open standard is taking something like 10-100x as much CPU to do the same thing.

You're an illiterate idiot.

Re:Bull hockey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607493)

Precisely. On a given machine architecture, there may possiby be only exactly one straightforward way to write certain standard elemental algorithms.

As Daniel Webster once said (5, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | about 5 months ago | (#45606895)

If you have the law, hammer the law. If you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts, appeal before a judge who has a never used a hammer.

Re:As Daniel Webster once said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607627)

Yep. Justice is blind, sometimes. $GOD help us.

Mr. Oblivioustudeness

Pay up slackers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45606901)

They should pay me for using line numbers, I own the copywrite on that.

Com'on boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45606913)

This is Slashdot. Hating on Lawrence is what we do here. Now go out and win one for the Gipper!

[citation needed] (3, Interesting)

DrPBacon (3044515) | about 5 months ago | (#45606921)

At trial, documents came out showing that Oracle thought about making a "Java phone" but never did. Controlled chuckles echoed through the courtroom, at which time the judge ordered the last few seconds to be stricken from the record.

Re:[citation needed] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45606983)

Yes, i remember that java on chip phase. Unless they are used in bluray players or something, i don't know any device using them. Maybe some semi smart phones perhaps at some point?

If they get this reversed, it will shut them down (4, Insightful)

number6x (626555) | about 5 months ago | (#45606947)

How many times have Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp implemented api's from other company's copyrighted software in their own code. Reversing this ruling will make their own code illegal.

In a perverse way, I hope they succeed in overturning the ruling and then proceed to loose all profits for the next few years. The stockholders of these companies should be swinging a very large axe in the 'C' level offices of this band of companies for even thinking of overturning this ruling. A win for Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp would pretty much destroy the viability of the software industry in the USA.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (5, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | about 5 months ago | (#45607045)

No. Big companies buy up huge defensive patent portfolios, then when they end up infringing each other's IP, they just work out cross-licensing deals with each other; as long as a company has a big enough portfolio of relevant IP, they are pretty safe. It's all very cosy.

Who isn't safe is any new player trying to enter the market, who might as well give up, or at best hope to be bought by one of the established players rather than sued into oblivion.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (1)

game kid (805301) | about 5 months ago | (#45607101)

Pretty much, plus those guys (or at least MS and Oracle) have the money and lobbyists to be the law. "Why are you violating this poor company's copyr--oh hi, Microsoft, didn't expect the Christmas suitcase so soon! CASE DISMISSED. /gavel"

The overturn would be a massive win for (at least two of) those four and a(nother) loss for sensible copyright.

Re: If they get this reversed, it will shut them d (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607461)

Patents yes but this is copyright.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (2)

ausekilis (1513635) | about 5 months ago | (#45607603)

Lets take this a step further. I don't buy that this is simply a way to get Google to bend over a bit, there has to be more to this. Given that MS has a history of cut-throat tactics to ensure market share, I'm theorizing that this is going to be the start of another round of fighting with the *NIX community, including OSX.

Microsoft has turned it's war on Linux into a tradition, frequently claiming that assorted parts of Linux violate MS copyrights. The general response from the OSS community is "Put up for shut up." If this ruling is overturned, the battlespace changes. MS can claim rights to a lot of violations very easily. SMB, NTFS, and FAT all come to mind, I'm sure there are others. Of course, this door swings both ways, since Active Directory is basically LDAP with Kerberos and a few bells and whistles. Im sure Apple has incorporated or modified some software that belongs to MS, I know they've built on *NIX, since they are BSD based.

None of these OS companies have ever played nice with one another, it'll be interesting to see "Monkey Shit Fight '14: The Revenge"

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (1)

pegr (46683) | about 5 months ago | (#45608097)

"... claiming that assorted parts of Linux violate MS copyrights."

PLEASE stop confusing patents and copyrights. Microsoft has NEVER accused Linux of violating copyrights. (Perhaps you were thinking of SCO? ;)

Side note, I miss PJ...

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607799)

A defensive patent portfolio only works when the other company is infringing on your patents as much as you infringe on theirs. This doesn't work against trolls.

Oddly enough, the patent trolls may be the savior of us all.

I shudder to think it.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#45608005)

It still can't end well in the long run.

Say in this case they're succesful, say they manage to destroy Google with their patents, Google files for bankruptcy and is stripped down and sold off.

What do you think is going to happen to Google's patents? All it will take is a patent troll that has implemented no software itself to hit companies like Microsoft with them and Microsoft defensive patents will be 100% useless because the patent troll produces nothing useful to sue over.

Maybe Microsoft themselves will buy up the patents but that's going to get them into a massive bidding war and it's going to cost them hard and for what? Microsoft would have a choice - blow money on patents with no one to use them against meaning you're effectively spending money on patents you'll never be able to make any money back off of, or let them go to someone who can make money off of Microsoft by using them against them.

Then when that happens you'll see a whole industry arise, an industry in creating more patents for the single purpose of selling them for a fortune to Microsoft, or selling them to patent trolls.

It's not going to end well. Microsoft's defensive patent suits could only ever get it so far, then after that patents are going to be a massive net cost to them with nothing whatsoever to show for that cost.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607541)

Could be the point. Pretty much everything else has been offshored.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (1)

Kirth (183) | about 5 months ago | (#45607587)

Speaking of C. This would just about make all the software Microsoft or Oracle ever wrote a copyright infringement. Because they used C or a derivative thereof.

Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (3, Interesting)

pegr (46683) | about 5 months ago | (#45608159)

You can copyright an implementation of a language, but you cannot copyright the language itself. This view is more completely settled in EU law, but there are US cases that have reached the same conclusion.

http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~aho/cs6998/lectures/11-10-11_Zimmeck_ProtectPL.pdf [columbia.edu]
http://the1709blog.blogspot.com/2013/01/sas-v-wpl-programming-languages-not.html [blogspot.com]
http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/january/computer-programming-languages-should-not-be-viewed-as-copyrightable-says-high-court-judge/ [out-law.com]

Knowledgable Judges (5, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 5 months ago | (#45606957)

If I remember correctly, the original judge learned to code for this case and seemed to be quite knowledgable by the end of it, realizing that if APIs could be copyrighted, programming as we know it would pretty much be impossible. Now we have new judges that don't have that knowledge (presumably) and are thinking of reversing the decision. I'd like to know the grounds they'd be thinking of using for that reversal.

Nice to see Microsoft jumping in to help out Oracle. If you're a software developer, my personal opinion is taht you should do everything you can to stop people from buying anything from either of these two companies.

Re:Knowledgable Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607081)

Now we have new judges that don't have that knowledge (presumably) and are thinking of reversing the decision. I'd like to know the grounds they'd be thinking of using for that reversal.

More likely than not, so would they. Fortunately for them, both sides will be providing experts with completely opposite opinions, and they can just do a copy and paste job from the expert of the side they prefer to see winning for whatever reason.

Re:Knowledgable Judges (5, Funny)

rnturn (11092) | about 5 months ago | (#45607145)

``Now we have new judges that don't have that knowledge (presumably) and are thinking of reversing the decision. I'd like to know the grounds they'd be thinking of using for that reversal.''

Just wait until their decision is appealed and this winds up in the Supreme Court. That's where the real technical expertise of the Judicial branch resides.

Re:Knowledgable Judges (5, Informative)

RDW (41497) | about 5 months ago | (#45607153)

Not only did he learn Java to understand the case, but Judge Alsup was already a programmer (and mathematics graduate), putting him in an ideal position to make nuanced judgements about Oracle's arguments:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57445082-94/judge-william-alsup-master-of-the-court-and-java/ [cnet.com]

' Alsup told Boies, "I have done, and still do, a significant amount of programming in other languages. I've written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before. I could do it, you could do it. The idea that someone would copy that when they could do it themselves just as fast, it was an accident. There's no way you could say that was speeding them along to the marketplace. You're one of the best lawyers in America --how could you even make that kind of argument?" '

It seems very unlikely that the current panel will be as well-qualified (which is great for Oracle).

Re:Knowledgable Judges (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 months ago | (#45607931)

The good news is that Judges hate to reverse other judges and odds are very high that Google will have IBM on there side.

Re:Knowledgable Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607349)

New Judge: I am reversing this based on the fact I know nothing about it, but that big money wants it, so it must be okay.

Questions asked don't predict Judge behavior (1)

davecb (6526) | about 5 months ago | (#45608103)

Quaetions tell you what part of the lawyer's arguments need expansion. Sometimes that can mean "you guys need to respond to this" (decision about to go one way), and sometimes questions can mean "are you really serious about this?" (decision about to go the other way).

They use witnesses to get facts, experts to get facts and expert opinion, and lawyers to get logic, then apply facts to the logic and expert opinion. If they were programmers, they'd be doing a transitive closure on ((facts + opinions) * logic) and pruning off all the branches that evaluate to "factually wrong" or "invalid logic". What comes out are prospective solutions, which then get pattern-matched against rules of law and legislation, looking for a fit (:-))

When there isn't a unique answer, they probe for more facts and logical arguments. Thus the questions.

--dave (not totally seriously, but close) c-b

If Oracle win, Oracle lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607001)

If a API's are copyrightable, then Oracle owe and awful lot of money to Microsoft for the API's in win.h As does every other company in the world.
So I assume there is some little deal between the two (Oracle and Microsoft) not to make each other pay if they get away with this scam?

You can see Microsoft is clearly trying to mislead the judges in their brief. e.g. Page 15.
http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MSFT-Oracle-Brief.pdf

"Affirming the would needlessly undermine the foundation on which extensive and widely beneficial licensing ecosystems have been built throughout the software industry. Creators of software platforms from proprietary operating systems like Microsoft Windows ,Clustered Data ONTAP Enginuity and OneFS to open source platforms like Linux depend on copyright as lynchpin to their operation."

So everything you wrote for Windows, thinking it was your software that was built using win.h or similar API spec, then becomes part copyright Microsoft. If they fool the new judges then IT'S A BIG LANDGRAB for Microsoft and Oracle.

Yet they fool the judge into thinking it's a catastrophy if the definition of the API cannot be copyrighted, even if the code that implements that API *is* copyrighted. That is the reality now, it has always been the reality, yet they're trying to fool the judge into letting them take copyright over everything using their API.

Re:If Oracle win, Oracle lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607261)

Linux depends on copyright for their operation? Wow, that's really just insane. Really just want to hit rock bottom on this debacle. We really need to get better as a community at communicating just how dire stuff like this is.

Re: If Oracle win, Oracle lose (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 5 months ago | (#45607639)

Without copyright the gpl is bsd, open source harmony.

Re: If Oracle win, Oracle lose (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45608237)

Without copyright the gpl is bsd, open source harmony.

Without copyright there would be no need for anything different from BSD. In effect (software patents aside) everything would either be freely usable or secret!

What Java Needs to do. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607009)

Die! Java Die!

Only Oracle Filed (4, Informative)

bedroll (806612) | about 5 months ago | (#45607063)

"This week, however, Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp have filed for appeal and seek to reverse the ruling."

This isn't quite right. The case is between Oracle and Google, the other companies have no standing. Instead, Microsoft, EMC, and Netapp have filed an amicus brief in support of Oracle. They're all companies who stand to benefit from Copyright protection on their APIs.

Isn't it ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607067)

Isn't it ironic that a company like Microsoft would join Oracle in such a case. After all, Microsoft would not be the powerhouse they are today if not for the people who reverse engineered the original PC BIOS. If IBM had been successful in stopping those implementations of BIOS, then Microsoft would probably be a footnote in computer history since their software wouldn't run on other computers without BIOS compatibility. In a case like this, even the thought of writing a clean room implementation would prevent anyone from creating an IBM compatible computer. IBM and OS/2 would have dominated personal computing.

Re:Isn't it ironic... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607201)

I don't know that it is entirely clear that without clean room BIOS, IBM would have dominated. IBM was certainly a major player without Compaq but without Tandy moving towards what Compaq accomplished in copying the BIOS I don't know that the platform is nearly as successful. Intel, Western Digital and Microsoft have far less interest in advancing the x86 platform is IBM is getting all the money. Moreover IBM lost tremendously as PCs replaced mainframes. I suspect that the divisions within IBM that had pushed for slowing the rise of x86 servers and were hostile to thick client applications that acted as a front end for the mainframe, might have more easily won the battle.

In this alternative history I think Apple becomes the dominant office computer system. Because Apple doesn't allow for price drops Commodore could do better. Maybe IBM and DEC end up owning enterprise and the move of PCs into enterprise doesn't happen the platforms just evolve independently.

Clean room not clean ... no rules for Google. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607071)

It proves the clean room wasn't clean, and that is the essential issue. And given Google's broader ethos is to copy first and request permission later, it demonstrates a lack of good faith in the overall licensing deal they weren't getting on the terms they wanted. So yeah, I would be pretty pissed off if I were Sun (ORACLE).

Re:Clean room not clean ... no rules for Google. (3, Informative)

thaylin (555395) | about 5 months ago | (#45607597)

Wait, what? So a contractor adds code that Google expressly told them not to, and somehow Google is now lacking in good faith... The mere fact that Google told him not to shows that they were acting is better faith then you are giving him credit for.

isn't that pretty much the definition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607091)

of prejudice? wouldn't the appeal on this be automatic?

Re:isn't that pretty much the definition (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 5 months ago | (#45607733)

Prejudice towards what? Judges can be knowledgeable on the subject matter, in fact they are expected to be in many cases. What you are think of is they cannot be biased towards one defendant or another.

Black letter law (4, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607139)

What's really lacking here is good quality black letter law about what copyright is supposed to do with respect to software. The courts are trying to fill a void left by our non-functional congress. The right way to be handling Microsoft's concerns is before a congressional subcommittee which can have a detailed hearings draws up legislation that goes to a committee....

Re:Black letter law (2)

chihowa (366380) | about 5 months ago | (#45607391)

That's how it should technically be handled, but practically the outcome would be worse. Congress is entirely run by lobbyists, with laws drafted entirely by the lobbying parties and consensus decided entirely by "campaign donations".

At least in an open court there is a token effort to decide which argument is the most sound. The courts allow for appeals, too, which is notably lacking in the practical outcomes of the decisions of legislators.

Re:Black letter law (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607885)

There are lots of rich people on all sides of the copyright debate. I suspect that the money issues don't apply as much because they cancel each other out. You are right that lobbyists would draft, but that's fine. Lobbyists are just acting like unpaid staffers in this case.

  As for the appeals, the legislature can revise and amend when they discover they made a mistake.

Re:Black letter law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45608321)

No its not fine. The money power will ultimately be asymmetrical. Whoever holds the most political power will get the decision. This is the way it works, but it is not the way it should work. Our legislatures should act in OUR interest. It's great when we get lucky, but its not okay to rely on luck.

What cause for appeal? (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 months ago | (#45607163)

I'm reading and stuff, but I'm not seeing a reason for appeal. Was there a technical error? I suppose there was that one bit about Alsup declaring APIs can't be copyrighted. I believe Alsup is right. But it doesn't advantage 'big software' in the least that people could be allowed to replace their software with something compatible... which, by the way, was something which I thought was established back when someone rewrote their own BIOS for a PC clone so long ago.

Re:What cause for appeal? (3, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45607305)

Here is the appeal: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Oracle.Appeal.Brief_.pdf [arstechnica.net]

1) Oracle's theory of the technical error is that congress does not want to allow copying that technically avoids the statute so the statue needs to be read broadly it was read narrowly by the original court.

2) Method of operation is copyrightable under a broad reading. They give examples of paraphrases of books being copyrightable. They have a good argument here.

3) Interoperability is not a concern of copyright law and thus the court can't argue that this plays a role. This is key because Google's defense argued that Sun had waived some of their protections.

I just think copyright law is too ambiguous and this needs to be kicked to congress.

Re:What cause for appeal? (4, Insightful)

devent (1627873) | about 5 months ago | (#45607869)

An API is a collection of facts, those can't be changed, they are like axioms in mathematics or words in a language. In math it's 1+1=2 and in API it would read result = new One().add(new One()) // result is Two. Like you can't change the meaning of "+" you can't change the meaning of "add". The copyright should not hold to the axioms but to the implementation, like copyright does not cover words but sentences.

So if you want to compare an API to a book, then the API are the words of the language the book uses. API is then the words the application is using. You can't copyright words.

Re:What cause for appeal? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 5 months ago | (#45608057)

That's one interpretation of an API. Another is that it is a creative work in itself in which case everything is protected except in the way it is licensed. You are just assuming API's aren't copyrightable to argue APIs aren't copyrightable effectively.

Re:What cause for appeal? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 months ago | (#45608281)

You have done nothing to argue against the OPs primary thesis. Namely that:

          "An API is a collection of facts"

This will go to the Supreme Court (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 5 months ago | (#45607235)

It's not surprising that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is looking to side with Oracle. They're notorious for favoring an absurdly over-broad interpretation of patent law, and have been described as a "rogue court [arstechnica.com]". Fortunately, the Supreme Court has shown a great deal of skepticism for the Federal Circuit's decisions, and this crosses traditional party lines (many of the rulings overriding the FC were unanimous or near-unanimous).

My prediction is that the patent shills on the Federal Circuit will side with Oracle, but that the ruling will then be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it will be overturned, setting a binding precedent that APIs cannot be copyrighted.

boycott them if possible (1)

Erleperle (1191631) | about 5 months ago | (#45607363)

Is it not possible simply to boycott these companies' products? To some extent at least

Re:boycott them if possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45608355)

It really isn't, unless you want to live without modern technology. Even on many products they don't produce they still collect license fees. They are also used by various businesses (in the case of Microsoft, nearly every business). So, you would have to boycott nearly everything.

Good Guys and Bad Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607379)

But Alsup's view will not be the final word on the matter. The App Developers Alliance, Rackspace, TMSOFT, and Stack Exchange support Google's position on this appeal. Microsoft, EMC, and Netapp filed a brief in favor of Oracle.

Good Guys
Google
The App Developers Alliance
Rackspace
TMSOFT
Stack Exchange

Bad Guys
Oracle
Microsoft
EMC
Netapp

Got it.

Copyright the English language (3, Insightful)

scsirob (246572) | about 5 months ago | (#45607395)

If Oracle succeeds in claiming copyright on the Java API then the next step is natural languages. Today an author can claim copyright on a story written in English. Claiming copyright on the Java API is like claiming copyright on the English language. Every Slashdot member who has ever written an article or even a comment would be liable for copyright infringement if this flies.

I do not know how to stop this insanity but there must be a way to stop big corporations from taking and claiming ownership of everything. This has gone far enough.

Time period to pay off a judge (1)

thepittman (3018315) | about 5 months ago | (#45607465)

I guess we have discovered that it takes a year to "influence" enough judges to bring your case back to court.

Java stole from C (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 5 months ago | (#45607513)

Why does Java have C's syntax? Java entirely ripped off the C syntax to ride on C's fan base.

If implementing your API based on another language API is a copyright violation, then I don't see why implementing your syntax based on another language's syntax isn't a copyright violation.

This whole case reeks of rent-seeking. It's disgusting and frustrating. Imagine how much faster technology would evolve if people competed by making better stuff instead...

The world of technology has always been a ruthless race, the ones that fall behind get gobbled up. But in the past decade the contenders are spending majority of their time trying to stab the other contenders instead of actually racing. Imagine in the Olympics, 100m dash, the runners are ready to run, the gun goes off.... and the runners start throwing dirt at each other's faces instead of actually racing. Sure, the runner who throws most dirt and kills the other runners will be able to get to the finish line first... but there will be no winners! EVERYONE loses!

Re:Java stole from C (3, Funny)

SQL Error (16383) | about 5 months ago | (#45607829)

Imagine in the Olympics, 100m dash, the runners are ready to run, the gun goes off.... and the runners start throwing dirt at each other's faces instead of actually racing. Sure, the runner who throws most dirt and kills the other runners will be able to get to the finish line first... but there will be no winners! EVERYONE loses!

That would be awesome.

When you count from 1 to 10, do you stop at 9? (1)

GiantRobotMonster (1159813) | about 5 months ago | (#45607793)

From the TFA:

private static void rangeCheck(int arrayLen, int fromIndex, int toIndex) {
        if (fromIndex > toIndex)
                    throw new IllegalArgumentException( "fromIndex(" + fromIndex + ") > toIndex(" + toIndex+")" );
          if (fromIndex < 0)
                    throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(fromIndex);
          if (toIndex > arrayLen)
                    throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(toIndex);
}

This is crap. Either 'toIndex' actually means 'onePastToIndex', or the final if test should be if (toIndex >= arrayLen) .
Try calling this function with arrayLen=10, fromIndex=1, toIndex=10 -- no exception, despite the zero-based array's last element being index 9.
If you ask somebody to count from 1 to 10, do they stop at 9?
If you see the following prototype: int randomValue( int fromValue, int toValue), what is the highest value you would expect could be returned?

Identifiers should be named accurately! Bad identifiers like this make code unnecessarily difficult to read, and makes it easier for bugs to go unnoticed.

If the allegation is that Google copied this code, and they've replicated the bad names along with the trivial algorithm, it does seem likely they authored their version via cut & paste...

Re:When you count from 1 to 10, do you stop at 9? (1)

EricTheRed (5613) | about 5 months ago | (#45608285)

This is crap. Either 'toIndex' actually means 'onePastToIndex', or the final if test should be if (toIndex >= arrayLen) .
Try calling this function with arrayLen=10, fromIndex=1, toIndex=10 -- no exception, despite the zero-based array's last element being index 9.
If you ask somebody to count from 1 to 10, do they stop at 9?
If you see the following prototype: int randomValue( int fromValue, int toValue), what is the highest value you would expect could be returned?

Identifiers should be named accurately! Bad identifiers like this make code unnecessarily difficult to read, and makes it easier for bugs to go unnoticed.

If the allegation is that Google copied this code, and they've replicated the bad names along with the trivial algorithm, it does seem likely they authored their version via cut & paste...

It might actually be correct, it depends on what's calling this method.

For example take either String.substring(begin,end) or String.subSequence(begin,end)

In either of those methods begin is the first inclusive index but end is the last exclusive one , so when you want chars 1..9 then begin is 1 but end is 10

There's plenty of api call's in there which follow the same pattern.

Has everyone actually looked at the code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45607807)

They want and entirely different interpretation of the law for just for this particular case a special interpretation just for them. After all they not little people are they? They are the gods of special privilege.

Dinosaurs against progress (2)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 5 months ago | (#45607809)

Anyone looking at this case can see that each side can be classified into one of two groups.

On Google's side, we have companies that are providing new products and innovating in the realm of engineering. Google alone has produced (sometimes through acquisition, but has continued to nurture and develop) Android, Docs, Search (PageRank), Hangouts, Adwords, News, and tons more. People get angry at Google for killing products that they actually use (nobody complained when the Kin or WinRT went away). Likewise, on their side they have companies like Rackspace, Red Hat, Stack Exchange, and a host of others who are still real engineering companies, who develop and promote the adoption of real engineering products which people actually use.

On the other hand, you have dinosaurs like Oracle, Microsoft, EMC, and so on who have more interest in killing competing products via acquisition, lititgation, EEE, and so on. Oracle alone has probably killed more products than it has successfully brought to the market (think OpenOffice and OpenSolaris, there are probably many more). And when they do try to innovate (think of all of Microsoft's failures for example), they fall flat on their face because they don't understand progress or real, sound engineering. But they're the first ones to jump into patent and copyright suits. Microsoft makes more money off Android than they do off their failed mobile efforts. They're not in the business to profit off progress - they're in it to profit off killing others. Google is by no means a saint in this respect, but they're certainly not pathological killers. Companies in this group are just parasites, sucking money out of the industry through shitty developers (shitty because they build upon these companies' shitty products), or through legal or business means including litigation, extortion, bribery, and conflict of interest.

Nothing will stop the companies on Google's side from continuing to innovate and do good in the world with the services they provide. But the courts will decide here whether they're strong enough to support them, or if they want to chum up with the dinosaurs and fight the good fight against continued progress and innovation.

Destroy Open Source! (2)

javelinco (652113) | about 5 months ago | (#45608271)

This is actually targeting open source. After all, if you can't see the source code, you can hardly say it was "copied" - therefore, you have to protect your software by never letting anyone see the source. Problem solved!
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