Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
ChaosEngine

Oracle loses Java API case against Google

This topic is 877 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Oracle has been suing Google for use of it's Java APIs in Android (looking for something like $9bn!).

 

Well, they just lost.

 

So, on one hand, this seems like a victory for common sense (also Oracle are just the worst).

 

But I'm not sure I completely agree with Googles argument of "it's just the API". Leaving aside the question of copyrighted code (let's just accept that regardless of your personal opinions on the subject, we live in a world where code can and is copyrighted), I think a well-designed API is actually a big part of writing any software project/library. 

 

Even if it's just (in C++ parlance) the "headers", that still represents a significant amount of work. I know that I spend a lot of time thinking about my APIs and how they fit together.

 

In fact, now that I think about it, I would say I almost spend more time designing the API than I do writing the implementation. 

 

Interested to hear other peoples thoughts on the subject.

Edited by ChaosEngine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

Hmmm not sure what to think of this. Obviously copyright has nothing to do with this except if you consider copying the définitions but by nature those are as public as can be and need to be copied everywhere to make a language usable, but it's not like here java was reimplemented for compatibility reasons but instead they claim to get the mobile os out the door asap, i'm surprised there was such a clear verdict on that with as you mentioned this meaning they get to use for free the design if not the code and that is a sizeable chunk of the work on such a large Library. I'm also surprised it isn't littered with patents (Microsoft had to grant a patent license for mono for exemple).

 

I wish i could just reimplement .NET anywhere and owe nothing to anyone but i'm pretty sure i can't. Actually even with this verdict i'm still sure i can't with patents.

 

I do "kinda" feel bad for oracle there, not that their 9bn asking was reasonable but they did have a point, not a full one, not a "you're completely right and Google is wrong" point but definately something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even if it's just (in C++ parlance) the "headers", that still represents a significant amount of work.

I haven't followed the case too closely but AFAIK this still doesn't mean that you can steal/use people's headers without permission.

It just means that if you reverse engineer a header to use the same interface, the idea behind that interface isn't covered under copyright.

On the one hand this is common sense, as copyright protects implementations, not ideas.
On the other hand, yeah, a lot of creativity and work does go into coming up with the idea behind an interface, and being able to copy that work almost exactly does seem like it's cloning a creative work.

In any case, I would guess that free software people should be happy, as this means that reverse engineering the interface to any proprietary system (e.g. Windows) and then replacing it with your own version / emulation is on much more solid legal footing now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I read the jury instructions that were posted publicly on the case, I had a good feeling about it. The instructions were clear on the difference between declarative code defining an interface and functional code defining the working details.

 

US copyright law carves out an explicit fair use exception for interoperability of computer programs, and the text of that law was also in the jury packet.  

 

It is the same clause in the lexmark v static controls case that allowed them to clone printer cartridges.

 

Back in the Lexmark v Static Controls case the appeals court wrote that the law clearly allowed all copying for interoperability purposes, otherwise hardware makers could lock their components in illegal ways. That ruling additionally specifically called out automotive parts and video game systems, declaring that copyright protection does not apply to any kind of lockout codes since they are declarative rather than functional.  Companies can still attempt to use lockout codes, but they cannot use copyright infringement as a defense if they are broken.

 

I'm glad the jury was careful about those instructions.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm most happy with the current situation personally.

 

On one hand the appeal court's judgement acknowledges the creative work required to create a good API. I mean, I don't have any respect for the Java Foundation Class' APIs I think they're a mess and I hate every second I spend coding in Java, but when I think of some really well made libraries such as (IMHO) LINQ or the Roslyn API in .NET, all the new modern async Javascript libraries out there, or the thread/promise/future libraries in modern C++, I see a lot of cleverness and creativity in their design and I'm glad that the copyright acknowledges the work that goes into creating them.

 

At the same time, compatibility between APIs is a sine qua non condition to make software work, to promote competitivity between software providers, for free open source alternatives to work, etc. They have also been used forever, as each piece of software is built on top of another. The fact that using or copying them is fair use is common sense and I can't think of what would have happened to our industry if Oracle had it's way.

 

So basically if I understand right, it looks like APIs have a copyright but using or implementing them is fair use, making their copyright look kind of symbolic. If my understanding is correct, this is *exactly* how I hoped it'd be.

 

Also, I really have to raise my hat to the members of the jury for making sense out of very technical computer science concepts such as APIs and object-oriented programming and taking the right decision. I doubt a lot of them were technical people, if any.

 

Too bad Oracle intends to go in appeal again. Hopefully the appeal court will serve them a legalese translation of "Go f... yourself!" because I'd really like the current state of affairs to stay the way it is.

Edited by Bearhugger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, if APIs could be protected then people will close up valuable interfaces and charge people to connect etc. The IT industry has been built on plugging different systems together and if Oracle won that would break everything. Would be really ugly.

 

In the end, Sun open sourced the Java interfaces, just a shame it was not a true open licence because this would never have reached this point. The trouble with Oracle is that I am sure they really purchased OpenOffice, Java and MySQL to take control. Now OpenOffice and MySQL are forked and they have lost control of Java, they should have looked at the licenses close before the purchase :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if supermarkets were invented today people would be trying to patent the use of a door to get in.

What, don't want to pay for my supermarket door patent? Don't worry for the lower budget i also sell a "hole in the wall" patent to get you started, much cheaper!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 don't have any respect for the Java Foundation Class' APIs  

 

Dang it Microsoft, look at what have you done. People calling standard library "foundation classes", calling autocomplete "intellisense", next thing you know they're going to start calling git/hg/svn their "team foundation software".

 

API copyright its stupid, no matter how much of a half functional Java the Android SDK is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!