Thursday, May 26, 2016

Do Google API declarations violate an Oracle Copyright

More completely:
Do “declarations of the API [application programming interface] elements in the Android class library source code and object code that implements the 37 [Java] API packages” violate a copyright held by Oracle?

An Initial Bias
In the Database (DB) world I grew up with Oracle.  Whereas my first proper database was really Informix,  Oracle was the familiar  DB where I always felt at home.   Even when later I was supposed to be fawning over the capabilities of IBM's DB2,  I always hankered back to Oracle.  20 years ago I  always unfairly gave Oracle the benefit of the doubt.

But over the years the behavior of the Oracle CEO, of course Larry Ellison 
has had me cringing until  in 2010  Oracle went for the big disgrace.  To quote Wikipedia

On August 12, 2010, Oracle sued Google over claimed infringement of copyrights and patents related to the Java programming language.[293] Oracle originally sought damages up to $6.1 billion,[294] but this valuation was rejected by a United States federal judge who asked Oracle to revise the estimate.[295] In response, Google submitted multiple lines of defense, counterclaiming that Android did not infringe on Oracle's patents or copyright, that Oracle's patents were invalid, and several other defenses. They said that Android is based on Apache Harmony, a clean room implementation of the Java class libraries, and an independently developed virtual machine called Dalvik.[296] In May 2012, the jury in this case found that Google did not infringe on Oracle's patents, and the trial judge ruled that the structure of the Java APIs used by Google was not copyrightable.[297][298] The parties agreed to zero dollars in statutory damages for a small amount of copied code.[299] On May 9, 2014, the Federal Circuit partially reversed the district court ruling, ruling in Oracle's favor on the copyrightability issue, and remanding the issue of fair use to the district court.[300][301]

In December 2015, Google announced that the next major release of Android would switch to OpenJDK, which is the official open-source implementation of the Java platform, instead of using the now-discontinued Apache Harmony project as its runtime. Code reflecting this change was also posted to the AOSP source repository.[143] In its announcement, Google claimed this was part of an effort to create a "common code base" between Java on Android and other platforms.[144] Google later admitted in a court filing that this was part of an effort to address the disputes with Oracle, as its use of OpenJDK code is governed under the GNU General Public License(GPL) with a linking exception, and that "any damages claim associated with the new versions expressly licensed by Oracle under OpenJDK would require a separate analysis of damages from earlier releases".[143]

May 26th 2016 Verdict
From arstechnica:  Following a two-week trial, a jury has found that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." The verdict was reached after three days of deliberation.

Other Examples

How far would Linux Development have got, if the owners of UNIX had said, sorry you can't copy any of our System calls or API's?

Ditto for Minix and any other UNIX like Operating System.

How far would GNU have got if UNIX developers had said: Sorry our UNIX utilities and command flags are not to be copied?

How far would Microsoft DOS have developed had it not adopted the API structure from Digital Research CP/M and CPM/86?


Yes but: The Appeal

I am pretty sure the tossers [that is Oracle of course] are going to argue the toss.  They have the money and will; based on previous performance, appeal and whine and moan, dragging out the case to its last gasp.

Where do I stand Now?

- No matter the technical qualities of Java,  I think I'd rather code in Assembler than have to promote any kind of code owned by Oracle
- And whilst I might have grown up with Oracle,  I think the company has sufficiently showed me its true colours, so if I could instead use another database,  (well very easily in SAP by the way) then I would if I could.
- Given that Android is free  (see Android AOSP),  Oracle's trying to extract between 6 and 9 Billion Dollars from Google  (depending on who you consult) for this API violation is just a total disgrace.
- And don't even get me started about Oracle licensing!!

I can sum it up succinctly

Don't be evil

Dear Oracle: your behaviour broke my heart .....

ABC: Poison Arrow

ArsTechnica briefing
Quartz Coverage
Realtime Web Coverage