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  Oracle are winning in the 'copyright an api' legal fight  (Read 15500 times)
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Offline CommanderKeith
« Posted 2015-06-29 14:38:45 »

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSKCN0P91O720150629?irpc=932

http://theconversation.com/oracle-vs-google-case-threatens-foundations-of-software-design-42517

It seems so silly that Java was open sourced, yet these legal shenanigans are allowed to occur.
Ironically, this expansion of copyright powers will probably be the death kiss for copyrighted programming languages. Why would a company use, extend, interface with and rely upon copyrighted programming languages when it is liable to pay fees?
The unowned languages such as JavaScript, c, and rust may become more popular.

Offline JESTERRRRRR
« Reply #1 - Posted 2015-06-29 20:04:12 »

I thought this was simply about them copying the API, can someone explain what's going with fees to me?
Offline noctarius

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2015-06-30 06:10:50 »

Oracle hasn't won the fight yet but unfortunately they are on their way to success. As part of the JCP EC I know of the hard confrontations and my point of view is that both sides are wrong. Oracle is wrong to start a fight over API copyrights and nobody can tell me they're not aware of the problems a win would bring for the whole industry and Google is wrong because they knew about Java ME and that companies are supposed to pay royalties for mobile development. Even though Google chose to use the Java SE APIs it is more like a twofold way to work around this issue, first of all using "open-sourced" APIs and secondly not using Java ME.

Oracle wants a piece of the Android mobile market, my view again, and I totally understand their point here. Google and Oracle should find a solution which doesn't make APIs copyrightable and I really hope that the court is not as dumb as I might imagine them. My gut feeling for such lawsuits is that you most often have judges that have no idea of the industry and the implications that arise from their "views".

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Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #3 - Posted 2015-06-30 08:28:17 »

Thanks for your comments, very interesting.

Google is wrong because they knew about Java ME and that companies are supposed to pay royalties for mobile development.
Why are companies supposed to pay royalties for mobile development? It seems that is the Apple model, but it's certainly against consumers' interests and the anti-trust pro-competition legal framework. Also, Java ME was a flagging under-invested framework that was dying. It was only a matter of time before it was going to be replaced.

Oracle hasn't won the fight yet but unfortunately they are on their way to success. As part of the JCP EC I know of the hard confrontations...
If you don't mind me asking, what's your involvement in the JCP EC?

Apparently the case has become political, with the US government weighing in and asking the court not to accept Google's appeal. I'm not a lawyer, but to my knowledge, if an appeal is refused then Google can't escalate the matter and therefore has to accept the last (unfavourable) judgement.

From that Reuters article:
Quote
The Obama administration, which was asked to weigh in on the issue earlier this year, asked the Supreme Court not to take the case. The administration said the dispute had raised important concerns about the effect that enforcement of Oracle's copyright could have on software development, but said those issues could be addressed via Google's fair use defense.

Offline noctarius

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« Reply #4 - Posted 2015-06-30 13:07:24 »

Why are companies supposed to pay royalties for mobile development? It seems that is the Apple model, but it's certainly against consumers' interests and the anti-trust pro-competition legal framework. Also, Java ME was a flagging under-invested framework that was dying. It was only a matter of time before it was going to be replaced.

I know it is kind of stupid but if you want to use Java on a mobile you're supposed to use Java ME and for Java ME you have to pay royalties. Google worked around that saying that a mobile these days is powerful enough to run a normal Java or better said not to use Java but Dalvik / ART on the mobile and "cross-compile" the Java bytecode to Dalvik bytecode.

If you don't mind me asking, what's your involvement in the JCP EC?

I'm one of the representatives for Hazelcast, Inc. therefore I am part of the EC itself. I am the one still calling Android a Java implementation and bugging people with that Tongue

Apparently the case has become political, with the US government weighing in and asking the court not to accept Google's appeal. I'm not a lawyer, but to my knowledge, if an appeal is refused then Google can't escalate the matter and therefore has to accept the last (unfavourable) judgement.

Here's another article http://www.programmableweb.com/news/supreme-court-delivers-major-blow-to-api-economy-copyright-ruling/2015/06/29 - so what happens is the supreme court said they'll not take on that matter therefore it goes back to the district court (as far as I know the US court system :-)).

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #5 - Posted 2015-06-30 13:22:24 »

Well that's a relief, hopefully common sense prevails.
Thanks for the link and explanations.

Offline princec

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« Reply #6 - Posted 2015-06-30 13:40:36 »

"Common sense" really isn't applicable here. There is no right answer. Both parties are "right" but the ramifications of either one being ruled "right" are bad. There's no good solution. This is a problem.

Cas Smiley

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #7 - Posted 2015-06-30 13:50:53 »

I can't understand how oracle can be seen as being'right'.
They are suing Google for copying an open source project. Seems pretty obvious to me that google is right and oracle is wrong.

Edit: Assuming that google kept to the terms of the open source license agreement, which I think they did.

Offline princec

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« Reply #8 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:10:29 »

Well, now let's imagine that you spent 50 years developing a rich and complex library of code, say, in C++, and you make your living after all your hard work by licensing people to use your binaries, and in a gesture of goodwill you release the source to those binaries to allow people to see how it all works and some smartass just goes "yoink" and copies all 208 header files and starts redistributing them without so much as a by-your-leave and then goes on to make billions of dollars from it. Would you be happy about that?

Cas Smiley

Offline noctarius

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:20:14 »

I can't understand how oracle can be seen as being'right'.
They are suing Google for copying an open source project. Seems pretty obvious to me that google is right and oracle is wrong.

Edit: Assuming that google kept to the terms of the open source license agreement, which I think they did.

I think the big issue here is the "GPL with Classpath Exception" which actually applies to OpenJDK. I guess with enough wish you can interpret it in a way that the API is not GPL at all. Anyways I dislike the license choice but this is more like my personal animosity to the GPL Smiley

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Offline nsigma
« Reply #10 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:21:48 »

They are suing Google for copying an open source project. Seems pretty obvious to me that google is right and oracle is wrong.

Edit: Assuming that google kept to the terms of the open source license agreement, which I think they did.

Yes, because the FSF never went after anyone for GPL violations!  Tongue

If Google had actually forked off OpenJDK under the GPL w/CPE then there wouldn't be the hint of a case.  This is partly because Google wanted to control the ecosystem.  It may also be due to the lack of a time machine.

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Offline J0
« Reply #11 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:33:34 »

Question: what would concretely happen if any of the two parts won? persecutioncomplex

Offline KevinWorkman

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« Reply #12 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:34:06 »

Well, now let's imagine that you spent 50 years developing a rich and complex library of code, say, in C++, and you make your living after all your hard work by licensing people to use your binaries, and in a gesture of goodwill you release the source to those binaries to allow people to see how it all works and some smartass just goes "yoink" and copies all 208 header files and starts redistributing them without so much as a by-your-leave and then goes on to make billions of dollars from it. Would you be happy about that?

It's not that simple though.

A lot of people seem to think that Android "stole" some open-source Java code. But that's not what the debate is.

The debate is whether or not an API (in other words, the JavaDoc) can be copyrighted.

Android took the Java API (the list of its classes and methods, which any developer can access) and reimplemented those classes and methods in "Android Java".

Oracle claims that the API itself is copyrighted. They aren't claiming that Android developers stole Java's implementation of those APIs- in other words, nobody is claiming that Android stole code. They're claiming that coming up with your own implementation of an API is copyright infringement.

If Oracle wins this, that means that Joe Programmer can no longer implement a class called ArrayList that uses the same method names as the existing ArrayList class, without infringing on Oracle's copyright. Whether or not Oracle will enforce this is debatable, but larger-scale open-source projects that reimplement part of the API might be pretty worried about this. And that's the part that trickles down to us measly programmers.

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Offline noctarius

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« Reply #13 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:34:34 »

Yes, because the FSF never went after anyone for GPL violations!  Tongue

Actually there is no GPL violation. The CPE keeps the APIs (which will be linked into your program) out of the GPL necessity to redistribute your own code as GPL. It is kind of like a LGPL for the Java Standard API. The internal implementation inside the Dalvik-/Android-Runtime is no OpenJDK code but partly taken from the old Apache Harmony project (which obviously is ASL2 licensed) and partly self written by Google. So no violation at all, and the FSF hunts GPL violations down, see router vendors in the past.

Offline noctarius

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« Reply #14 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:37:30 »

If Oracle wins this, that means that Joe Programmer can no longer implement a class called ArrayList that uses the same method names as the existing ArrayList class, without infringing on Oracle's copyright. Whether or not Oracle will enforce this is debatable, but larger-scale open-source projects that reimplement part of the API might be pretty worried about this. And that's the part that trickles down to us measly programmers.

Right, Hazelcast for instance, that reimplements the Java Collections and Concurrency APIs in a distributed fashion would probably not be able to do so anymore without going to pay royalties to Oracle. As already said whether Oracle will enforce this or not - well that would only show the future.

Offline princec

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« Reply #15 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:49:13 »

Exactly - it's a massive clusterf**k.

Except for the small problem that it's a substantially massive API that took millions of dollars to develop, and if they were your millions of dollars, what would you do? Especially if whoever had copied them (they didn't just appear out of nowhere, remember!) has gone on to make billions on top of it?

Cas Smiley

Offline nsigma
« Reply #16 - Posted 2015-06-30 14:50:06 »

Yes, because the FSF never went after anyone for GPL violations!  Tongue

Actually there is no GPL violation. The CPE keeps the APIs (which will be linked into your program) out of the GPL necessity to redistribute your own code as GPL. It is kind of like a LGPL for the Java Standard API. The internal implementation inside the Dalvik-/Android-Runtime is no OpenJDK code but partly taken from the old Apache Harmony project (which obviously is ASL2 licensed) and partly self written by Google. So no violation at all, and the FSF hunts GPL violations down, see router vendors in the past.

Yes, I know!  My point kind of skipped by you there  Wink  I was pointing out that @CommanderKeith's suggestion that this case is about Google copying an open-source project is incorrect.  Had they used OpenJDK (and GPL w/CPE), which would also have required said time machine, there wouldn't be a case because of the API permission you mention. 

I mentioned FSF because they're quite supportive of Google's position, but had Google instead forked OpenJDK and placed it under ASL2, then FSF would have been clearly backing Oracle.  I tend to agree with @princec that there isn't really a "right" in all this.

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Offline noctarius

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« Reply #17 - Posted 2015-06-30 15:02:43 »

Yeah I think there is no right but both are wrong in their own positions, as I said before Cheesy

Offline nsigma
« Reply #18 - Posted 2015-06-30 15:15:01 »

Yeah I think there is no right but both are wrong in their own positions, as I said before Cheesy

True, so you did  Wink  this OTOH I disagree with you on ...

I know it is kind of stupid but if you want to use Java on a mobile you're supposed to use Java ME and for Java ME you have to pay royalties. Google worked around that saying that a mobile these days is powerful enough to run a normal Java or better said not to use Java but Dalvik / ART on the mobile and "cross-compile" the Java bytecode to Dalvik bytecode.

Had Android development started later and had Google been happy with GPL w/CPE, they could have used OpenJDK as the basis for Android.  The GPL doesn't allow field of use restrictions, so Oracle couldn't do anything about that.

I'm surprised sometimes Google hasn't re-based Android's Java API on top of a fork of OpenJDK.  I don't see that the license change would affect their business model that much, and they're already using GPL (without CPE) code in the OS.

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Offline Opiop
« Reply #19 - Posted 2015-06-30 15:31:44 »

- snip -
While understandable that Oracle would want a cut of the pie, it's terrifying what could happen to code if APIs are allowed to be copyrightable. How would languages evolve if you couldn't safely implement a new version of code that lies in that copyright? Would major games (first game that comes to mind is Minecraft) that most likely re-implements some part of the Java API be sued or have to pay royalties? While it isn't fair to Oracle that they don't get a cut, I feel it's for the best if APIs can't be copyrighted. They developed a language and allow other developers to leverage it to build amazing things, how is it then fair to turn around and say "ok, you now owe us thousands of dollars for implementing a new ArrayList solution on top of our API?". Doesn't LibGDX have their own List implementation?
Offline Abuse

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« Reply #20 - Posted 2015-06-30 17:18:10 »

So am I right in understanding that Oracle winning this case would basically destroy the 'clean room' design technique?

If so, Oracle simply can't be permitted to win, as the ramifications would be disastrous to the entire IT industry.
Offline ags1

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« Reply #21 - Posted 2015-06-30 17:37:29 »

Wait a minute... I implemented java.util.List yesterday.... Do I need to call my lawyer?

Offline KevinWorkman

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« Reply #22 - Posted 2015-06-30 18:30:02 »

Wait a minute... I implemented java.util.List yesterday.... Do I need to call my lawyer?

That's the scary part: if Oracle wins, where do we draw the line? What's the difference between implementing a bunch of interfaces and implementing an entire API?

We could come up with some arbitrary limit, but keep in mind that Android didn't implement nearly 100% of the API, so... where is the line?

No matter where you draw the line, it seems a bit arbitrary and draconian in a way that limits stuff that's at the core of software development and Java itself.

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Offline KaiHH

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« Reply #23 - Posted 2015-06-30 18:58:14 »

http://www.scribd.com/doc/266703948/Goog-v-Oracle-Solicitor-General-Brief-Copy#scribd
This contains the notes of the Supreme Court and all the arguments being exchanged, which becomes quite an interesting read, starting with document page 7.
It concludes with that the Supreme Court does not want to decide the verdict and delegates to a subordinate instance.
Offline Cero
« Reply #24 - Posted 2015-06-30 21:05:26 »

The legal and tech implications are already basically covered in this thread...

Ethically, making it first open source and then suing someone for seemingly using it appropriately, means one of two things:
A) They didnt image this usage - Seemingly impossible and or very stupid
B) Their behavior was inconsistent, meaning a change of heart. Which means first they were ok with it and then, considering the circumstances they were not anymore, or realized they could sue.

And the second one is not really defensible ethically imo.

I'm not 100% informed on this issue... If SUN open sourced it and THEN was bought and Oracle disapproved it makes more sense at least. Not that I would approve tho anyway.

Offline Roquen

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« Reply #25 - Posted 2015-06-30 21:59:17 »

Android took the Java API (the list of its classes and methods, which any developer can access) and reimplemented those classes and methods in "Android Java".
Off the topic of this thread...but that's exactly what they didn't do.  They cut corners and actually did violate copyrights.  This was demonstrated by the internal memos.  An important part of US law is intent and they stepped over the line and the completed system was not clean-room.

The notion of being able to copyright an API, esp. a publicly available one, is stupid.  But then again likewise for software patents.  Well and a huge list of other current laws in pretty much every country on the planet.
Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #26 - Posted 2015-07-01 07:33:51 »

I still can't understand how Oracle won in the higher courts after it was established that Google:
-Didn't violate any patents.
-Did do a clean room approach besides a small number of methods' code that the lower court judge said was 'overblown' by Oracle.
-It has been established in past cases that API's are not copyright-able.

As Cero made clear, morally and from the point of view of a lawyer's "reasonable person", open-sourced software is fair game to be copied.
It's bizarre that the US courts are allowing API's to be copyrighted.
What's the point of an object-oriented language that allows inheritance if you can't copy the API to inherit the methods Clueless

EDIT: By the way, wikipedia has a good run-down of the case:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle_America,_Inc._v._Google,_Inc.

Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #27 - Posted 2015-07-01 07:54:46 »

... I was pointing out that @CommanderKeith's suggestion that this case is about Google copying an open-source project is incorrect.  Had they used OpenJDK (and GPL w/CPE), which would also have required said time machine, there wouldn't be a case because of the API permission you mention. 
Ah ok, I wasn't aware that Google used Apache Harmony's java implementation in android, I thought they used OpenJDK.
This case seems to link back to Sun's refusal to grant Apache Harmony the TCK. Apparently they only wanted it to be given to GPL'ed java code.

Still, this is an unusual step for API's to be copyright-able. It's a break from past cases and norms. Copyrights last much longer than patents.

Offline princec

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« Reply #28 - Posted 2015-07-01 08:21:39 »

There is some conflation here about the use of a copyrighted API versus the distribution of a copyrighted API. There's never going to be a way to stop people from linking to copyrighted APIs so we can all rest easy about that, because that's exactly how APIs are meant to be. The issue is that Google are redistributing a copy of the API which appears to be a 99% verbatim copy of a significant body of original work.

Cas Smiley

Offline nsigma
« Reply #29 - Posted 2015-07-01 08:42:32 »

Ethically, making it first open source and then suing someone for seemingly using it appropriately,

At which point your argument breaks down because the case has nothing to do with it being open source, but if it had been that Android derived from OpenJDK this would have been using it inappropriately, in that Google has no right (ethically or legally) to change the license.

A) They didnt image this usage - Seemingly impossible and or very stupid

There's a reason Java ME is GPL without the classpath extension.  And likewise, a reason that the ARM version of HotSpot isn't open-source.  Wink

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