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Google guilty of Java copyright infringement with Android

   
3:33 am on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



[computerworld.com...]

Oracle thanked the jury for the verdict. "The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that Google knew it needed a license and that its unauthorized fork of Java in Android shattered Java's central write once run anywhere principle," it said.


Google has been found to have knowingly violated Oracle's copyrights with Android and it appears that Google's claim of fair use will be the focus in a possible new trial. Seeking out permission and license rights in advance would have avoided this entire legal mess.
9:48 am on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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[bbc.co.uk ]
But the jurors were unable to agree on whether Google's actions constituted "fair use" under copyright law.
Oracle was asking for $1bn (630m) in compensation in one of the biggest such technology lawsuits to date.
Google was found to have infringed Oracle's copyright on nine lines of Java code that is in Android,..

$1bn for 9 lines of code! Someone is kicking themselves.
2:02 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Judge William Alsup , who is hearing the case, must decide whether Oracle's Java APIs (application programming interfaces) can be copyrighted at all under U.S. law.

Historically, APIs have not been considered copyrightable. But Oracle argues that the the "structure, sequence and organization" of the 166 API packages in Java are sufficiently complex to merit protection.


If the judge finds that APIs are copyrightable, it is going to trigger off a lot of litigation. Everyone who has copyright on the original implementation of an API that has become widely used will sue someone. I find it hard to imagine APIs can be copyright without protocols also not being copyright.

Of course, its consumers and small businesses that will be worst hit as products become incompatible with each other or become unavailable.
2:36 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Deja Vu...

I wonder if Microsoft will sue Google for stealing their business modell. After all modifying JAVA to encourage incompatibilities was Microsofts idea first.

[out-law.com...]
9:19 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Between being busted for advertising illegal drugs, copyright violations, snarfing private data, the whole "Don't be evil" image of Google is a bit tarnished.

Regards...jmcc
2:52 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I wonder if Microsoft will sue Google for stealing their business model

Considering the personal wealth of the "billionaire boys" of MSFT and GOOG, I wonder if the old saying should changed to; "Evil is the root of all money".
7:14 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



A bit more from the BBC article [bbc.co.uk...] to help clarify. It's a complicated set of issues and circumstances....

...Oracle can only seek statutory damages, ranging from $200 to $150,000.

Google is asking for a mistrial to be declared.

"There has been zero finding of liability on any copyright so far," US District Court Judge William Alsup told lawyers for both firms after the jury left.

"The affirmative defence of fair use is still in play."


Here's an excellent article in Wired that might help put the API copyright issue in perspective. I'm quoting a few relevant sections, I trust not exceeding fair use. The article is well worth a read.

Could an Oracle Win Against Google Blow Up the Cloud?
By Robert McMillan
Wired Enterprise
May 7, 2012

[wired.com...]

The conventional wisdom in the coder community has been that it's fine to reproduce the interface of someone else's APIs, so long as you don't actually copy their software. So if the court finds that APIs are copyrightable, it could have major implications for any software that uses APIs without explicit permission - Linux for example....

...Depending on how U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup rules, the U.S. could have a different take on this question from the rest of the world. This week, a European court ruled that APIs are not copyrightable, and Alsup has asked Google and Oracle to submit briefs on how that ruling should be viewed by the court.

As a commentator in the article notes....
"I am much more concerned about the implication for the internet as a whole. Or, more realistically, America's role in building internet companies. No other country is going to honor the idea of copyrighted APIs."

The article points out that copyright protection lasts significantly longer than patent protection, so the implications of the decision could be long lasting.

There's also a patent phase to the trial. For some background on the state of patent litigation among tech companies, see this thread...

How patent trolls are affecting software and technology
When Patents Attack! - "This American Life"
http://www.webmasterworld.com/webmaster_business_issues/4346070.htm [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:05 am (utc) on May 9, 2012]

7:53 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Linux itself will probably be OK (with a few workarounds possibly) as the APIs are used in software available under an open source license with the permission of the creator of Unix, in the *BSDs. The same applies to Unix services and compatibility stuff for Windows from MS and others. X Windows might be a problem, as may lots of other popular parts of Linux based OSes

The problem is that almost everything else will be hit. Themes and plugins (for everything from Worpdress to Excel) are potentially affected. IBM will have a copyright on the BIOS API (and the clean room reimplementation no longer gets other BIOS makers off the hook).

Then there are re-implementations of languages. A language is probably covered. Every C compiler will require permission from whoever owns the copyright on the original C language and standard library implementation. Things like SQL (IBM again) are probably in copyright.
5:57 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



History repeating itself...Google can be deemed as Microsoft of yesteryears.

Pinned down by more haters day by day :)

Its all KARMA it seems :/
7:07 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



webindia123, have you read about the topic or did you just come here for mindless Google bashing? As a happy Android user and webmaster, I believe this subject deserves more than the usual bitter whining about losing traffic or whatever. As much as you may not like Google, this could have far reaching consequences to developers.
10:36 am on Jun 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



To follow up on the above...

APIs cannot be copyrighted, judge says, torpedoing Oracle case against Android
guardian.co.uk,
Friday 1 June 2012

[guardian.co.uk...]

Ruling by Judge William Alsup stymies Oracle's aim of winning billions of dollars against Google over mobile operating system

...A jury in the long-running case had found on 7 May that Google infringed eight APIs, but couldn't agree on whether Google was covered under the "fair use" provisions of US copyright law, which allow limited uses of copyrighted works to create others.

Now Alsup's determination makes that moot. The APIs, said Alsup in his ruling, form "a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted... the Act confers ownership only over the specific way in which the author wrote out his version. Others are free to write their own implementation to accomplish the identical function, for, importantly, ideas, concepts and functions cannot be monopolised by copyright."

This bears out several discussions I've had in the past couple of weeks with local Bay Area public policy experts on technical matters, who also felt... quite strongly, I should add... that APIs can not be copyrighted.