Excitement Ahead: Google and Oracle Get Another Jolt of Java

May 27, 2015

Let’s assume that Fortune is spot on. Let’s assume that Department of Justice lawyers have figured out the issues related to application programming interfaces. Let’s assume that copyright is the operative claim. Let’s assume that no one writes, “Assume. Ass-u-me.”

Navigate to “Let Oracle Own APIs, Justice Dept Tells Top Court in Surprise Filing.” Surprises are a good thing, right?

The all-time-champ of business is Fortune. I circled this passage:

The issue before the court is when, if at all, API’s can be protected by copyright. The outcome has serious repercussions not just for Google, but the entire software industry, since API’s act as a sort of lingua franca that allow different computer programs to deliver instructions to each other. In the case of Oracle and Google, the dispute turns on the search giant’s use of certain Java API’s for its Android software. Java is a programming language that was developed by Oracle’s predecessor, Sun Microsystems, and is widely used by software developers.

Quick question? When Java was in the Google mix, how many former Sun engineers were employed at Google? How many were working on the caffeinated project?

I then noted:

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, a respected Silicon Valley judge, initially sided with Google in 2012 after teaching himself Java for the trial. He found that the API’s were functional, and fell on the wrong side of copyright law’s “idea/expression dichotomy” and merger doctrine – these are rules that prevents copyright law from becoming too broad, and covering everyday things like menus and simple instructions.

Even the dinosaur bones on the Google campus smiled.

But then the legal worm did its thing:

Last year, however, the U.S. Federal Circuit appeals court overturned that finding, and likened the Java API’s to Charles Dickens and other literary works.

And now another twitch:

In its filing on Tuesday, the Obama Administration’s top lawyer sided with the Federal Circuit. It also repeated that court’s argument that the case should be decided by determining if Google had a “fair use” right to use the API’s

What’s next?

You know the answer: More lawyering.

Google now has an opportunity to spend more quality time with various officials in Washington, DC. The stakes are high because a couple of big companies are about to help explain copyright. Publishers, like Fortune, should be really excited.

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2015


One Response to “Excitement Ahead: Google and Oracle Get Another Jolt of Java”

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