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Oracle Vs. Google and the Right To Use APIs 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-precious-code dept.
jfruh writes "Even as an EU court rules that APIs can't be copyrighted, tech observers are waiting for the Oracle v. Google trial jury to rule on the same question under U.S. law. Blogger Brian Proffitt spoke with Groklaw's Pamela Jones on the issue, and her take is that a victory for Oracle would be bad news for developers. Essentially, Oracle is claiming that, while an individual API might not be copyrightable, the collection of APIs needed to use a language is. Such a decision would, among other things, make Java's open source nature essentially meaningless, and would have lots of implications for any programming language you can name."
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Oracle Vs. Google and the Right To Use APIs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:13PM (#39884387)

    Yet you do not see Intel going after the likes of dosbox, virtualbox, virtualpc, vmware, bochs....

    Me thinks the instruction set license was an easy way out for most parties instead of a long drawn out court battle...

  • Turn-about (Score:4, Interesting)

    by evil_aaronm (671521) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:40PM (#39884605)
    Wouldn't Oracle be guilty of this, as well, to some extent? Oracle couldn't possibly be using a 100% "clean" environment for their product or development systems. If they use C and standard libraries, they're using, in effect, copyright-able APIs.
  • by devleopard (317515) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @07:47PM (#39884663) Homepage

    ColdFusion [adobe.com] was about the only language (in my experience - sure there's others) that you needed to pay for the runtime for your code (in a production environment; development version was free; The "Express" version went away around 2001 or so). Then along come Railo [getrailo.org] and Open BlueDragon [openbd.org], and there were open source alternatives. The "language" itself is pretty basic (most developers get by using just 5 tags), but the power of it comes when you use the various feature tags that are more akin to APIs (cfchart, cfpdf, cfsearch, etc). Railo and OpenBD of course implement all these tags. Whereas Oracle doesn't "sell" Java, Adobe sells ColdFusion - if Oracle wins, Adobe has 100% motivation to eliminate their competition. (Should also point out that OpenBD's lineage comes from New Atlanta [newatlanta.com], which sells commercial version of Blue Dragon - MySpace was built on this.)

  • Pleading the Seventh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:42PM (#39885279) Homepage Journal
    Judge Alsup is pleading the Seventh [wikipedia.org]: "no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law." This way, the jury's verdict on the facts is on the books no matter what questions of law the Court of Appeals remands back to Alsup, and there's no need for an expensive retrial.
  • Re:hope we luck out (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zbobet2012 (1025836) on Friday May 04, 2012 @02:29AM (#39887203)

    Why? Because the jurors are not examined. An "expert juror" could decide the case based on a prejudice that is never heard in court, and neither of the sides get the opportunity to challenge. A jury with few preconceptions is good for transparency.

    but just what an API is. That can be taught adequately in about two hours.

    This is wrong, and provably so. 30% to 60% of CS students never make it pass the first class [mdx.ac.uk]. Literally, 30-60% of the population can't program. To quote the linked paper "It is as if there are two populations: those who can [program], and those who cannot [program], each with its own independent bell curve."

    Statistically speaking your try to teach someone in two weeks which some where around 60% of people literally can't be taught. The authors posit as to why this is, but the important fact is your asking a population to judge something 30 to 60 percent of them will never understand.

  • Re:hope we luck out (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday May 04, 2012 @05:01AM (#39887789) Homepage Journal

    ...and now we have bus drivers and secretaries deciding what applies to us and our trade in the span of mere weeks...

    If you'd been following the case you'd know that this judge has been working very hard, for months, to understand the issues and make sure the jury is presented with well-formed questions and good background. How good a job he has been able to do, I don't know because that would require wading through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pages :-)

    The key point about juries is that they are 'of your peers', people equal to and in a similar position to the people being tried. It does not seem to me that in this case bus drivers and secretaries are in any useful sense 'peers' of software engineers - they lack the knowledge, concepts and language required to form a considered opinion of this case. It's like having a jury of Indonesian rice farmers adjudicating on the Enron [wikipedia.org] case: it doesn't work because they cannot reasonably be expected to understand the arguments. It really doesn't matter how well intentioned or well read the judge may be: without a common language, communication isn't possible (which is, actually, precisely what the case is about).

  • by avjt (780022) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:24AM (#39888153)
    Tried the links -- and the Bing link didn't show the copyright notice anywhere. Then I realized that Bing has identified my country, India. Clicked on that, changed it to United States - English ... lo and behold, the copyright notice appeared at the bottom of the page! Now what's going on?

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