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Oracle Google Patents Software The Courts

Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-think-now? dept.
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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Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:13AM (#45606847) Homepage Journal

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

    • by fizzer06 (1500649) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:20AM (#45606893)
      I've had women slap me just for thinking about something.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:30AM (#45606955) Homepage

      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.

      • by jbolden (176878)

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

        • And who picks the juries...?

          • by jbolden (176878)

            Both sides from a pool of the population.

            • Lawyers. And usually the dumbest people they can find, who don't know about either programming or jury nullification. Because why not?

              • by jbolden (176878)

                If both sides are interested in dumb there is little be done. But I don't think that's always the case. This has happened in CA courts where the jury was almost entirely college educated and included several people who could code.

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:03AM (#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.

        • by Sarius64 (880298)
          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.
        • by steelfood (895457) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @02:21PM (#45610233)

          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.

          No, sorry, it can't. There's currently enough technological excellence in other parts of the world that they can design and build unlocked general purpose computers for fairly cheap without U.S. involvement.

          The only reason why people pay attention to U.S. laws is because of the strength of U.S. consumers. The U.S. spends and spends. It's a special market unto itself because of how much spending people do, and as a consequence, how competitive the landscape is for those consumer dollars. The money doesn't come from nowhere though. The U.S. has enormous amounts of natural resources to exploit, including a very low overall population density, a habitable climate, and a stable society seen practically nowhere else.

          If it becomes more profitable to entirely ignore the U.S. market though, people will stop catering to the U.S. laws and regulations. This can be brought about in a multitude of ways, but one way that's already in progress is the loss of the middle class and thus the loss of total consumer spending power.

          That'll be the only way things can return to sanity here; after economic intimidation from other countries.

      • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:25PM (#45609305)

        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.

        It is FAR worse than you imagine. The current patent laws state that it is not only illegal to sell an infringing technology, but to merely use it yourself. So, even if you, as I do, create your own hardware in your own garage without caring to look at the designs of others, and design hardware and compilers without even a single formal instruction on the topic at hand -- Being that such optimal designs are self evident simply from studying the cybernetic nature of interacting information pools. Even if you've NEVER looked through the patent database -- as all companies tell employees not to do, for risk of treble damages -- your own works can be seen infringing and taken from you. Is that an unlicensed homemade computer or circuit board or OS? Well, we'll be confiscating it for patent infringements. They do not do so currently, but the patent laws say they can prevent your use of technology you've invented independently yourself.

        There is absolutely ZERO evidence that patents and copyrights are beneficial. The US plagiarized the Statute of Anne to include a provision for the development of copyright and patents. This is an ideological assumption, much like creationism: It's a good idea to think of things this way because that's the way we've always thought of things. No one has ever tested the damn hypothesis. No engineer or scientist should agree to run the world's economy based on unproven and untested hypotheses that copyright and patents are beneficial. What if they're very harmfull?! It's egregious to take that risk.

        Let's examine the Telephone, invented by Elisha Gray [wikipedia.org], and yet awarded to Alexander Bell. Regardless of who is the rightful inventor, both worked on the problem. Both invested much time and energy. Gray was prevented from benefiting from his works, while Bell was granted a monopoly over the variable resistor solution. Telephone was actually an iteration. We already knew you could transmit language via wire telegraph, we knew you could transmit tones and sounds, but we just lacked the resolution of modulation required for speech. Look at the very symbol for an ingenious good idea -- The lightbulb. Edison did not invent the incandescent bulb! There were prior patents for it. If Edison hadn't existed we would still have found a cheap gas to fill the bulbs with and extend filament life -- Many were working on the problem, but the rich arrive at the solution sooner.

        Patents have only ever benefited the big guys over the little guys. Artists, researchers, and scientists are foolishly accepting far too little up front pay for what is scarce: Their ability to do work. They bet their efforts away like gambling addicts in a copyright and patent futures market. So much talent is wasted on work that doesn't pan out, so many bright minds are lost to the economic and employment churn of betting on their future earnings. Even if you do invent something valuable, the Immortal Corporations can just wait 20 years before utilizing it. Instead of paying full price for the valuable act of research and creation o

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:42AM (#45607035)

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

    • by QilessQi (2044624) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:09AM (#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.

    • 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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pegr (46683) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:18AM (#45606875) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • 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.

      • by pegr (46683)

        "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.

      • by sribe (304414)

        ... '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.

      • It depends on who wrote those nine lines of code.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      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.

      • by jbolden (176878)

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

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Slashdot in "programming is not a creative process" shock.

  • by paiute (550198) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:20AM (#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.
  • [citation needed] (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrPBacon (3044515) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:24AM (#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.
  • by number6x (626555) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:29AM (#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.

    • by Tx (96709) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:46AM (#45607045) Journal

      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.

      • by game kid (805301)

        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.

      • 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

        • by pegr (46683)

          "... 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...

      • by Xest (935314)

        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

        • Microsoft never seeks to put its competition out of business. It wants them there
          1. As monopoly insurance
          2. As a source of ideas to copy

          What they do seek to do is ensure that all their competitors operate on the same business model as Microsoft. i.e. writing and selling software with periodic incompatible upgrades that force everyone to buy their software again and again. This is the model Microsoft spent 30 years building monopolies to support, and they know they can win against anybody else operating on

    • by Kirth (183)

      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.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Sorry, doesn't work that way. The ruling would be selectively enforced and those companies would magically not be prosecuted.

  • Knowledgable Judges (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:31AM (#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.

    • by rnturn (11092) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:58AM (#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.

    • by RDW (41497) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:59AM (#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).

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

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

    • 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) * lo

  • Only Oracle Filed (Score:5, Informative)

    by bedroll (806612) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:48AM (#45607063) Journal

    "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.

  • Black letter law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:58AM (#45607139) Homepage

    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....

    • by chihowa (366380) *

      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.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        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.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      The vagueness is intentional. They *want* the law to be full of landmines that judges can detonate at their pleasure on whoever their puppetmasters don't like.

    • Nonfunctional? I think the better term would be dysfunctional; they function all right, just not in the interest of those they originally were supposed to represent.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:00AM (#45607163) Homepage

    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.

    • by jbolden (176878) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:21AM (#45607305) Homepage

      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.

      • by devent (1627873) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#45607869) Homepage

        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.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          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.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

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

                      "An API is a collection of facts"

            • by jbolden (176878)

              Sure I have. There is creative content. Collections of facts in a written structure can be copyrighted. A cookbook for example can have copyright. A documentary, even one that is nothing more than collection of interview can be copyrighted. Etc...

              • by ediron2 (246908)

                Am sure you're aware that a cookbook can be copyrighted, but not the recipes therein.

                Analogously, the API documentation (en masse) can be copyrighted. Format of the documentation, annotations and sample code, etc. are the 'creative work' in this example, but not the recipes (the api calls) or the ingredients (the parameters of those calls). And copyrighting a functional framework itself (especially one that was pushed as a free portable run-anywhere languages so aggressively for more than a decade) is aki

                • by devent (1627873)

                  The last point is a good one. Sun actively promoted Java and competing JVMs. IBM and Apache have implemented their JVMs using Sun's API. The only restriction of Sun was the testing/compatibility framework Technology Compatibility Kit for the brand "Java". As far as I recall Sun only allowed JVMs to use the name "Java" only if they pass the TCK and to use the TCK you needed a license from Sun. That is why Google's and Apache's JVMs are not called Java.

                • by jbolden (176878)

                  Not quite true Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.

                  As for the fact the API copyright was clearly waived by Sun in making it so public Google raised this the judge agreed. I think Oracle has a weak case here as I mentioned in original post. We were excluding that issue and just talking about a private API.

              • by fatphil (181876)
                No, the structure the facts are surrounded in is copyrightable.

                Regarding what you find in cookbooks, copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression -- a description, explanation, or illustration, for example -- that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.

                Interviews are almost never just facts, interviews are expression.
      • Interoperability is not a concern of copyright law and thus the court can't argue that this plays a role.

        Sure it is; the DMCA even has an exception for it.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:11AM (#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.

  • by Kludge (13653)

    Another good reason not to use Java

  • Ugh...I miss Groklaw...

  • by scsirob (246572) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:30AM (#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.

  • 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

    • by SQL Error (16383) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:14AM (#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.

  • 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);

    • by EricTheRed (5613)

      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.

      • The code might be "correct" but the terminology used in its interface does not match what the code does.
        Abusing the English language because its too hard to come up with unambiguous accurate descriptors makes for lousy code.
        Just because there are loads of APIs that follow this pattern doesn't make them right, if they are using words that mean something else entirely.
        There's nothing wrong with the "last exclusive one" pattern, but you need to make it obvious in your choice of words that this is what is inten

  • 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.

  • by javelinco (652113) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:51AM (#45608271) Journal
    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!
  • Nothing the judges said indicates that they may side with Oracle on the overall issue (there was back and forth, and teasers in both directions on that). The one clear indication given was that the judges lean toward saying that if they overturn Alsup on APIs being copyrightable, they agreed with Oracle that there's not a need for another jury trial.
  • by bayankaran (446245) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:54PM (#45609803) Homepage
    ...why Google did not buy Sun?

    It might be the most boneheaded indecision when the whole Android platform is built on Java.
  • by reg (5428) <reg@freebsd.org> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @02:38PM (#45610459) Homepage

    Application Programming Interfaces are like forms - you fill one out and hand it to something to get work done. Then someone hands you back a response. If the Java APIs can be copyrighted then so can the layout of forms. Except US law says forms cannot be copyright (says Wikipedia):

    37 Code of Federal Regulations  202.1(c) (2006) ("Blank forms, such as time cards, graph paper, account books, diaries, bank checks, scorecards, address books, report forms, order forms and the like, which are designed for recording information and do not in themselves convey information [are not subject to copyright]"); see also Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1880).

    This is just another example of adding "on a computer" and claiming it is something new.

    Regards,
    -Jeremy

  • Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp

    Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death [wikipedia.org]

    Somehow seemed to fit.

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