Printed from http://www.electronista.com

Ruling in Google versus Oracle: APIs are not copyrightable

updated 09:52 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2012

41-page brief first ruling of its kind

Further announcements have come from Judge William Alsup's courtroom in the Google versus Oracle case today. The judge has decreed programming APIs to be non-copyrightable. The ruling comes in accordance with existing copyright law declaring "a utilitarian and functional set of symbols, each to carry out a pre-assigned function" non-copyrightable under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act. Alsup's court is the first court, district or appeals, to have specifically addressed the separate matter of API copyrightability, instead of the complete codebase copyrightability issue.

Judge Alsup sided with Google on this matter. Google lawyers previously requested the matter be decided as a judgement as a matter of law (JMOL) in this fashion. From the summary: "So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical," Alsup writes.

The judge adds for emphasis that "When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law."

The finding does address the duplicated nine lines of rangecheck code specifically, and specifically notes that Dr. Joshua Bloch planned to contribute the offending library back to the Java community by submitting his code to an open Java implementation. In fact, the library in question is included as part of the Java J2SE 5.0 release. This code no longer exists in Android, as it was purged from the codebase over a year ago.

Judge Alsup's summary draws from decisions as far back as the 1980s, including Atari Games Corp (Tengen) versus Nintendo of America to address the reverse-engineering issue, Sega versus Accolade for software standards and compatibility, and Lotus Development Corp versus Borland International for interoperability and software look and feel. Sony Computer Entertainment versus Connectix Corporation was also referenced, but as an outlying example. This case only addresses APIs, the libraries used to make software. Complete code packages are still protectable by copyright law.

A brief analysis of the 41-page summary of judgement suggests that Alsup is attempting to constrain the power of broad patents used in lawsuits, such as that decried by Tim Cook in his recent AllthingsD conference keynote interview. The judge clearly states near the end of the brief "we should not yield to the temptation to find copyrightability merely to reward an investment made in a body of intellectual property."

While the ruling is likely to have long-lasting implications for future court decisions, the immediate concern of the judge is Google versus Oracle. Alsup's filing reads a bit harshly in the summary in regards to Oracle's point of view during the trial, stating "Oracle has made much of nine lines of code that crept into both Android and Java. This circumstance is so innocuous and overblown by Oracle that the actual facts, as found herein by the judge, will be set forth below for the benefit of the court of appeals."

This statement, taken with the rest of the judicial summary, doesn't leave much room for Oracle to successfully appeal to, or get any traction from, another court or judge. Also, the wording suggests that Judge Alsup isn't particularly enthusiastic about Google disgorging, or giving up, any profit earned from Android. The trial, and penalty phase for any infringement that remains and is considered substantial, continues next week.



Oracle v. Google: Order Regarding Copyrightability of APIs



By Electronista Staff
Post tools:

TAGS :

toggle

Comments

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -9

    HEY LARRY


    Should have taken the percentage :-D

    I really wish Steve Jobs was still alive to hear this verdict.

    Would have loved to see him and his bosom-buddy Larry do a Monkey Boy.... throw a couple of chairs around the Apple campus 'n stuff...


    Lolz!!!!



    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -11

    OH!


    JUST ONE MORE THING............................................................................................................................


    Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrroid!




  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -5

    So what you're saying

    is that you admit that Google stole code from Java. The fact that the judge finally decided that APIs aren't copyrightable doesn't obscure the jury verdict. Yes, Oracle isn't going to see any profit on this enterprise, but at least the point is now clear an official:

    ANDROID IS STOLEN.

    It is now an undeniable fact. That they got away with it is more annoying than material.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -7

    re: So what you're saying


    Hey bonehead, are you on crack? Do you not respect the decision of the courts? What just happened in the last two years? Google was found innocent. End of friggin' story.

    It's not Google fault that it figured out how to make the Java process more efficient and profitable than that of Sun/Oracle's efforts.

    Don't forget the only reason that Oracle purchased Sun - to sue Google.

    So if the courts have decided and ruled that Google did not infringe, please enlighten me as to how you have come to the conclusion that Android is "stolen".

    AND DON'T SAY IT'S BECAUSE STEVE SAID SO. f*** HIM.

    Are you Florian Mueller's sock puppet account? You seem to believe what you want to believe.






  1. climacs

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Sep 2001

    -1

    srsly

    how old are you wrenchy, 12? You get excited about Android like a normal guy would get excited about v*****. Maybe it's because you've never had any.

  1. andrewbw

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2001

    0

    Aaaand...

    Pretty much anything you needed to know about MacNN is neatly summarized in this thread. No wonder they've put all their focus and ad sales efforts behind Electronista.com.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: srsly

    how old are you wrenchy, 12? You get excited about Android like a normal guy would get excited about v*****. Maybe it's because you've never had any.

    He can't be any younger than various other posters on this board (say SockRolid) who take great joy at seeing anything bad happen to Android, or the loads of people who seem to just love raking Google, Samsung, etc over the coals any chance they get, because somehow THEY feel wronged by the company's actions.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +3

    Re: So what you're saying

    is that you admit that Google stole code from Java. The fact that the judge finally decided that APIs aren't copyrightable doesn't obscure the jury verdict. Yes, Oracle isn't going to see any profit on this enterprise, but at least the point is now clear an official:

    ANDROID IS STOLEN.


    Yes, they "stole" 9 lines of code! Horrors! That means the whole thing is stolen! This being code that was added to the public source, mind you. But why quibble, the whole thing is stolen!

    It is now an undeniable fact. That they got away with it is more annoying than material.

    Um, no, what it shows is that they legally used the software just as they said, that there was at least one instance where some code was improperly used (and I wonder if that has never happened at, say, Apple) and this was addressed.

    What it really shows is that Oracle was really just trying for a money grab because they wanted Google to pay for something they didn't need to pay for.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    +2

    re: I'm just curious


    Hey chas_m, once again you're hearing what you want to hear, or reading what you want to read.

    Just one of the many sites that you can get this information...

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/31/3055620/oracle-java-api-not-covered-copyright-law

    >>> Of the 166 Java packages, 129 were not violated in any way. Of the 37 accused, 97 percent of the Android lines were new from Google and the remaining three percent were freely replicable under the merger and names doctrines.

    Ok, what part of 36 out of the 37 API's in question were NEWLY written BY GOOGLE don't you understand?? AND the 1 out of 37 API was "freely replicable under the merger and names doctrines."

    Who is the one who can't read again??

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.

toggle

Network Headlines

toggle

Most Popular

Sponsor

Recent Reviews

Life n Soul 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones

When it comes to music on the go, consumers generally have some options to consider when looking for the best experience. While Blueto ...

Tesoro Tizona G2N Elite gaming keyboard

The market for gaming keyboards is getting crowded, starting off with some fairly simple keyboards and diverging into the land of modu ...

GX Gaming DeathTaker mouse

Gaming is a serious endeavor for many people, driving them to look for the best performance in their system and interface devices. Fro ...

Sponsor

toggle

Most Commented

 
toggle

Popular News