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Oracle Android Google Java The Courts

Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the cue-the-wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Remember the court battle between Google and Oracle? It's the one where Oracle claimed Android violated Oracle's patents and copyright related to Java. Oracle thought they deserved $6 billion in compensation, but ended up getting nothing. Well, it's still going, and the tide is turning somewhat in Oracle's favor. An appeals court decided that Oracle can claim copyright over some parts of Java. It's a complicated ruling (PDF) — parts of it went Google's way and parts of it went Oracle's way — but here's the most important line: '[T]he declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages at issue are entitled to copyright protection.' A jury's earlier finding of infringement has been reinstated, and now it's up to Google to justify its actions under fair use."
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Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java

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  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:16PM (#46960719)

    Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley wrote. "On this record, however, we find that the district court failed to distinguish between the threshold question of what is copyrightable — which presents a low bar — and the scope of conduct that constitutes infringing activity."

    Does this mean that even though Oracle can copyright something (not sure what), Google might still be able to use it without infringing? That's what it sounds like to me. And it took a whole lot of wasted money for Oracle to barely make it over the "low bar".

  • Results (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:18PM (#46960749) Journal
    In the original trial, the jury found that Google had infringed on the Java API (37 API packages including the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization). Shortly thereafter, the judge ruled that those things were not copyrightable, thus Google didn't need to pay.

    Now, the appeals court has reversed that, and said that those things are copyrightable.

    Because the original jury was deadlocked on the question of whether Google's copying was fair use, it needs to go back to trial. But only the fair use will be considered in that trial, not copyrightability.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:20PM (#46960759) Journal
    This has nothing to do with using Java. It has to do with implementing your own incompatible version of the language. If all you want to do is use Java, or implement a compatible version, the license is good and you will have no problem.
  • by Rich0 (548339) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:26PM (#46960831) Homepage

    This has nothing to do with using Java. It has to do with implementing your own incompatible version of the language. If all you want to do is use Java, or implement a compatible version, the license is good and you will have no problem.

    The problem with this is that you now are subject to somebody else's sole determination that you are/aren't "compatible" or else you get stuck in endless litigation.

    If you build entirely on free-licensed components, then nobody has any control over what you do.

  • Re: Bye-Bye Java (Score:4, Informative)

    by VTBlue (600055) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:29PM (#46960859)

    Umm if you actually check mono's compatibility notes, it has ridiculous good compatibility distinguished between the various versions of .NET. While there will always be a lag, if you develop with Mono, you know what works and what doesn't. .Net 3.0 and 3.5 are pretty mainstream and 4.0 is pretty much good to go for a broad set of use cases.

  • It's bipartisan (Score:5, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:48PM (#46961025) Homepage Journal

    Do you have any questions which political party

    Both major U.S. political parties have shown themselves to favor expansion of the exclusive rights of copyright owners. See the No Electronic Theft Act, the Copyright Term Extension Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

  • by maroberts (15852) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:45PM (#46961561) Homepage Journal

    It may be surprisingly readable, but Justice Alsups original ruling was extremely clear cut, no nonsense and demonstrated a clear understanding of technical issues and accepting Oracles arguments. Accepting it also would have also limited or prevented a lot of litigation in the future.

  • by Anon E. Muss (808473) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:49PM (#46961597)

    (I actually read the court ruling before posting this)

    tl;dr version: The results will likely be awful, but the decision appears legally correct.

    Google won at trial because the judge decided that the Java API was not copyrightable. I absolutely believe that API's should not be copyrightable, but that isn't what the law says. Copyrightability has a very low threshold. The trial judge screwed up by applying legal standards related to fair use to the question of copyrightability. The appeals court was correct to reverse.

    The case now goes back to the district court. There will be a new trail with a new jury, but the only issue will be whether Googe's copying of the Java API is fair use. The original jury deadlocked on this question. Fair use decisions are very subjective, so it's hard to predict how this will turn out. All I can say is that I hope Google wins.

    P.S. None of this decision was related to patents. Oracle lost on their patent claims at trial, and that stands.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:54PM (#46961641)

    1. Isn't actually true. You need to stay well within the lines or draw the ire and lawsuits from Oracle
    2. Isn't true because you need to to be licensed by Oracle in order to be verified as 'compatible' and if they say no then guess what?
    3. Yup, that's pretty much the only route you have

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:55PM (#46961655) Journal

    It may be surprisingly readable, but Justice Alsups original ruling was extremely clear cut, no nonsense and demonstrated a clear understanding of technical issues and accepting Oracles arguments.

    It may have been clear cut, but he was wrong. The present ruling explains why, read it.

    Essentially: 1) He muddled his logic between 'copyrightablity' and 'fair use,' two different concepts.
    2) He didn't respect previous rulings and standard court procedures (such as the Abstraction, Filteration, Comparison [wikipedia.org] test).
    3) A lot of his logic rested on the Lotus case, which isn't commonly used as a precedent, and isn't relevant to this case anyway.

    Realistically there's no reason to believe that APIs aren't copyrightable. Do you deny that building an API requires a lot of creativity? Making a good API is hard work, and deserves protection as much as music does. This isn't even a particularly important question (whether anything at all deserves protection is another issue; here we are talking about what is currently legal).

    The more important and relevant question is whether the Google usage falls under fair use. If it does, then they can use the API anyway.

  • Re: Bye-Bye Java (Score:4, Informative)

    by lgw (121541) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:59PM (#46961683) Journal

    If you're targeting the "non-windows, non-mobile Linux home PC user consumer", then, yeah, Mono sucks for that user base (both guys!).

    But for the interesting consumer Linux market, which is to say Android, Xamarin has it sorted. I was skeptical of that dev environment for a long time, as the legal situation with Mono seemed unclear to me (even though they're in the right, MS could still sue to be a nuisance). But all that recently changed with an official MS-Xamarin partnership.

    C# is a joy to work in compared to Java (and I've spent years writing in each professionally), and now the legal issues flow the other way - MS is partnering while Oracle is suing.

  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsnNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:29PM (#46961909)

    They needed it because they were trying to speed up execution on smart phones. As I understand it, Dalvik(?) compiles class files produced by the javac compiler to optimize register allocations, and what they are arguing about is the documentation. They aren't trying to use the same name, so it's not related to the MS ploy of defining a non-compatible Java. They're trying to define a (very large) subset of Java+libraries that can be handled by their compiler.

    OTOH, it's been months since I paid close attention to this, so I may well have the details considerably garbled. IIUC, however, the question was whether the order in which class methods were listed in the documentation was copyrightable. Originally the answer was no, but it sound like that answer has been changed to yes.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:53PM (#46962531)

    If all you want to do is use Java, or implement a compatible version, the license is good and you will have no problem.

    This is completely false. Oracle changed the rules around for what it means to be "compatible" so that only projects that Oracle likes will be deemed compatible. Apache is being forced into a Java Fork [zdnet.com]:

    The problem's core is that first Sun, and now Oracle, won't give Apache a chance to certify Apache's Project Harmony as being Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) compliant.

    Apache: I know my rights. I want my compatibility certification!

    Oracle: How can you get a certification if you can't take the test?

  • by reg (5428) <reg@freebsd.org> on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:13PM (#46963099) Homepage

    I've followed trial very closely, and I read every line of the court transcripts of the original trial, although not every exhibit or submittal. They did not make this argument. They also did not make it on appeal, as far as I know. ("The parties have not disputed the district court's analogy: Oracle's collection of API packages is like a library, each package is like a bookshelf in the library, each class is like a book on the shelf, and each method is like a how-to chapter in a book." pg.7) Instead they used poor analogies for what the API is and does, and allowed it to be defined badly.

    Having finished reading the ruling... pg 28 is about the doctrine of merger (expression being dictated by idea). That's not what I am talking about. But it does discuss the issue I suggest on pg. 19. I'm talking about 37 C.F.R. Â 202.1(c). The only reference I can find to that statute in this case is in http://www.groklaw.net/pdf3/Or... [groklaw.net], where the idea of blank forms is only tangentially mentioned. There was some discussion of Baker v. Selden, but mostly in the context of the SSO of the API. Oracle actually concede in that that the individual method specifications are like a blank form, but not explicitly. Google never picked that up.

    *plonk*

    Regards,
    -Jeremy

Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.

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