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US Supreme Court rules for Google over Oracle

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The long saga of Oracle's copyright-infringement against Google, which copied much of the Java API for use in Android, has come to an end with this ruling [PDF] in favor of Google. "Google’s purpose was to create a different task-related system for a different computing environment (smartphones) and to create a platform—the Android platform—that would help achieve and popularize that objective. The record demonstrates numerous ways in which reimplementing an interface can further the development of computer programs. Google’s purpose was therefore consistent with that creative progress that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself."

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More coverage

  • Google v. Oracle: Use of Oracle’s API is a Fair Use

    In a 6-2 decision authored by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court has held that Google’s copying of the JAVA API naming convention was a fair use as a matter of law. The court did not decide the question of whether the API was copyrightable in the first place.

    In his dissent, Justice Thomas (joined by Justice Alito) argues that the majority opinion “disregards half the relevant statutory text and distorts its fair-use analysis. . . . Oracle’s code at issue here is copyrightable, and Google’s use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair.”

  • Supreme Court deems Google's use of Java APIs in Android fair use, thus no infringement--doesn't reach API copyrightability

    Supreme Court deems Google's use of Java APIs in Android fair use, thus no infringement--doesn't reach API copyrightability 15:57
    Author: Florian Mueller e-mail page | Android, APIs, Copyright, Fair Use, Google, Java, Oracle, Supreme Court
    Based on how the Google v. Oracle Supreme Court hearing went in October 2020, it appeared to be a given that the Java APIs in question were copyrightable, and the fair use debate was over whether the Federal Circuit had correctly ruled against Google or whether the San Francisco jury would have had to be afforded so much deference that a judgment as a matter of law wasn't warranted. In the former case, the case would have gone back to San Francisco for a remedies determination. In the latter case, the Federal Circuit would likely have remanded for a retrial, as Oracle was disadvantaged by the district court.

    Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has just declared Google's copying of thousands of lines of declaring code to be fair use, thereby substantially weakening software copyright protection in the United States as there had not previously been a case involving such a substantial amount of undisputedly original and creative program code that someone else was allowed to incorporate into a competing product and distribute billions of times.

    This decision was supportd by six of the nine justices. Only Justices Thomas and Alito dissented (and noted that the majority didn't want to address copyrightability because it couldn't have reached its fair use conclusion thereafter). Justice Barrett was appointed after the hearing.

One more

  • Supreme Court Sides With Google Over Oracle In Landmark Android Fair Use Case | HotHardware

    However you may feel about the case, it is certainly an interesting look into the world of computer programming. Moreover, the application of fair use here could have rippling effects, with similar cases popping up in the future. In any case, let us know what you think of the court's decision in the comments below, and stay tuned to HotHardware to see if Oracle continues its fight.

Software Innovation Prevails in Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

  • Software Innovation Prevails in Landmark Supreme Court Ruling in Google v. Oracle

    Supreme Court ruled today that reimplementing an API is fair use under US copyright law. The Court’s reasoning should apply to all cases where developers reimplement an API, to enable interoperability, or to allow developers to use familiar commands. This resolves years of uncertainty, and will enable more competition and follow-on innovation in software.

Red Hat and More

  • Red Hat statement on U.S. Supreme Court decision in Google v. Oracle

    Today’s 6-2 Supreme Court decision is a win for developers and the software industry; it recognizes the critical role of software interfaces to promote innovation, interoperability, and new technologies. Last year, Red Hat and IBM filed a joint amicus brief in this case urging the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court decision. The issues in this case were complex and the Supreme Court is to be commended for wrestling with its decades long history.

  • Supreme Court sides with Google against Oracle about copying APIs being 'fair use'

    It's being widely reported today that in the decade-long battle of Google vs Oracle that the Supreme Court has now finally ruled in Google's favour. This is huge, for Linux and Linux Gaming too.

    To prevent being too long-winded, I won't go deep into the technical details. The basics of the case were that Oracle sued Google going back into 2010 over the Java API. This was because Google did a reimplementation of it for early versions of Android and Oracle threw the lawyers around claiming doing so infringed on their copyright.

US SC backs Google in copyright fight with Oracle over Android

  • US SC backs Google in copyright fight with Oracle over Android OS

    Technology companies sighed with relief Monday after the Supreme Court sided with Google in a copyright dispute with Oracle. The high court said Google did nothing wrong in copying code to develop the Android operating system now used on most smartphones.

    To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. It also used about 11,500 lines of code copyrighted as part of Oracle's Java platform. Oracle had sued seeking billions.

4 more

  • GOOGLE LLC v. ORACLE AMERICA, INC. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT No. 18–956: Argued October 7, 2020 — Decided April 5, 2021 [pdf]

    The fact that computer programs are primarily functional makes it difficult to apply traditional copyright con-cepts in that technological world. See Lotus Development Corp., 49 F. 3d, at 820 (Boudin, J., concurring). In doing so here, we have not changed the nature of those concepts. We do not overturn or modify our earlier cases involving fair use — cases, for example, that involve “knockoff” products, journalistic writings, and parodies. Rather, we here recognize that application of a copyright doctrine such as fair use has long proved a cooperative effort of Legislatures and courts, and that Congress, in our view, intended that it so continue. As such, we have looked to the principles set forthin the fair use statute, §107, and set forth in our earlier cases, and applied them to this different kind of copyrightedwork.

    We reach the conclusion that in this case, where Google reimplemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google’s copying of the Sun Java API was a fair use of that material as a matter of law. The Federal Circuit’s contrary judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

  • U.S. Supreme Court backs Google over Oracle in major copyright case

    Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that allowing Oracle to enforce a copyright on its code would harm the public by making it a "lock limiting the future creativity of new programs. Oracle alone would hold the key."

  • Supreme Court Hands Google a Landmark Win — and Hollywood a Huge Concern

    Was declaring code within the scope of copyright protection?

    Surprisingly, that's a question that the high court largely bypassed today. The case was pre-hyped as one that would determine the copyrightability of computer code, but Breyer essentially says: Let's assume all of Java is copyrighted; Did Google make fair use?

  • Supreme Court Overturns Oracle’s Copyright Win Over Google

    At issue were pre-written directions known as application program interfaces, or APIs, which provide instructions for such functions as connecting to the [Internet] or accessing certain types of files. By using those shortcuts, programmers don’t have to write code from scratch for every function in their software, or change it for every type of device.

    [...]

    The Supreme Court didn’t address whether the code was eligible for copyright protection, an early point of contention. Instead, Breyer said that for this case the court would “assume, for argument’s sake, that the material was copyrightable.”

EFF response

  • Victory for Fair Use: The Supreme Court Reverses the Federal Circuit in Oracle v. Google

    In doing so, the decision underlined the real purpose of copyright: to incentivize innovation and creativity. When copyright does the opposite, fair use provides an important safety valve. Justice Breyer then turned to the specific fair use statutory factors. Appropriately for a functional software copyright case, he first discussed the nature of the copyrighted work. The Java APIs are a “user interface” that allow users (here the developers of Android applications) to “manipulate and control” task-performing computer programs. The Court observed that the declaring code of the Java APIs differs from other kinds of copyrightable computer code—it’s “inextricably bound together” with uncopyrightable features, such as a system of computer tasks and their organization and the use of specific programming commands (the Java “method calls”). As the Court noted:

    Thus, since the declaring code is “further than are most computer programs (such as the implementing code) from the core of copyright,” this factor favored fair use. Justice Breyer then discussed the purpose and character of the use. Here, the opinion shed some important light on when a use is “transformative” in the context of functional aspects of computer software, creating something new rather than simply taking the place of the original. Although Google copied parts of the Java API “precisely,” Google did so to create products fulfilling new purposes and to offer programmers “a highly creative and innovative tool” for smartphone development. Such use “was consistent with that creative ‘progress’ that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself.” The Court discussed “the numerous ways in which reimplementing an interface can further the development of computer programs,” such as allowing different programs to speak to each other and letting programmers continue to use their acquired skills. The jury also heard that reuse of APIs is common industry practice. Thus, the opinion concluded that the “purpose and character” of Google’s copying was transformative, so the first factor favored fair use. Next, the Court considered the third fair use factor, the amount and substantiality of the portion used. As a factual matter in this case, the 11,500 lines of declaring code that Google used were less than one percent of the total Java SE program. And even the declaring code that Google used was to permit programmers to utilize their knowledge and experience working with the Java APIs to write new programs for Android smartphones. Since the amount of copying was “tethered” to a valid and transformative purpose, the “substantiality” factor favored fair use. Finally, several reasons led Justice Breyer to conclude that the fourth factor, market effects, favored Google. Independent of Android’s introduction in the marketplace, Sun didn’t have the ability to build a viable smartphone. And any sources of Sun’s lost revenue were a result of the investment by third parties (programmers) in learning and using Java. Thus, “given programmers’ investment in learning the Sun Java API, to allow enforcement of Oracle’s copyright here would risk harm to the public. Given the costs and difficulties of producing alternative APIs with similar appeal to programmers, allowing enforcement here would make of the Sun Java API’s declaring code a lock limiting the future creativity of new programs.” This “lock” would interfere with copyright’s basic objectives. The Court concluded that “where Google reimplemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google’s copying of the Sun Java API was a fair use of that material as a matter of law.” The Supreme Court left for another day the issue of whether functional aspects of computer software are copyrightable in the first place. Nevertheless, we are pleased that the Court recognized the overall importance of fair use in software cases, and the public interest in allowing programmers, developers, and other users to continue to use their acquired knowledge and experience with software interfaces in subsequent platforms.

Supreme Court Sides With Google In Decade-Long Fight Over API

8 more

  • Supreme Court rules that Android Java usage is fair use in win for Google over Oracle

    In 2019, Google asked the Supreme Court to review Oracle’s long-running lawsuit over whether Android’s usage of Java was fair use. The Supreme Court this morning sided with Google and overturned Oracle’s win following a lower court ruling three years ago.

    This suit dates back to Oracle’s 2010 purchase of Java developer Sun Microsystems. After the acquisition, the new language owners sued Google, claiming that Android’s use of Java entitled them to an $8.8 billion slice of the operating system’s business and $475 million in lost potential licensing revenue.

  • Supreme Court sides with Google in years long fight with tech giant Oracle

    The Supreme Court weighed into a decade-old battle Monday between tech firms Google and Oracle, finding the search giant was allowed to use thousands of lines of code to build the Android platform found in mobile devices.

  • The US Supreme Court just handed Google a huge win in its massive Android lawsuit

    It's been over a decade since Oracle first began its lawsuit against Google over the use of parts of the Java platform in Android. Today, the United States Supreme Court finally ended it, with Google being the long-protracted winner. While the relevant bits of Java haven't been used by Android in years, the end of this court battle sets a precedent in US copyright law that will be important for almost anyone making software platforms in the future.

  • Google wins decade-long battle against Oracle over Java on Android

    Google has just secured a major win for Android. The company has been locked in a decade-long battle with Oracle over its use of Java code in earlier Android versions. Oracle sued Google after purchasing Sun Microsystems, which developed the Java platform. Oracle claimed that Google stole its property when it copied code based on Java APIs to develop Android and attract developers, seeking almost $9 billion in damages.

  • Supreme Court sides with Google over Oracle in case of Android code

    The US Supreme Court has ruled for Google in the battle between the search giant and Oracle over the architecture of Google's Android operating system. In a 6-2 decision published Monday and written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court ruled that "Google's copying of the Java SE API, which included only those lines of code that were needed to allow programmers to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material as a matter of law."

  • Supreme Court rules that Google's use of Java APIs in Android represent fair use

    Oracle, if you recall, filed suit against Google in August 2010, alleging its Android mobile operating system infringed upon Java patents Oracle acquired following its purchase of Sun Microsystems.

    Specifically, Google copied roughly 11,500 lines of code from 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) “to allow the millions of programmers familiar with the Java programming language to work with its new Android platform.”

  • Google Stock Rises As Supreme Court Rules Against Oracle In Android Software Dispute

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in Alphabet's (GOOGL) favor in a copyright dispute with Oracle (ORCL) involving Android software, in a decision that could have broader implications for technology developers. Google stock climbed into a buy zone.

  • Google wins legal duel with Oracle over Android's use of Java code

    In a 6:2 verdict the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday (05 April) that Google did not violate the copyright law by copying Java API code owned by Oracle, overturning an earlier Appeals Court’s ruling in Oracle’s favour back in 2018. The Supreme Court sided with Google’s argument that the copying of the code was “fair use” when Android APIs were developed.

    The case was first filed in 2010 by Oracle after it bought Sun Microsystems, who created the Java programming language, therefore assumed the ownership of the software. Oracle alleged that Google, having refused a commercial licence arrangement, copied over 11,000 lines of the most recognisable portions of the Java platform and used it in a competing platform (Android), therefore violated the copyright law that protects software.

By Michael Risch and Dennis Crouch

  • Google v. Oracle - The Final Shoe Drops

    The Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Google v. Oracle that Google did not infringe Oracle's copyright in its APIs by virtue of fair use. The vote was 6-2, with Justice Breyer writing for the Court, and Justices Thomas and Alito dissenting.

    The opinion was straightforward and went to great lengths to attempt to explain the technology at issue. I thought it did a decent job of it (definitely more Godot than Guffman), even as the opinion continued to struggle for a good analogy. The Court adopted the file cabinet/drawer/folder analogy presented in Google's brief, which I thought was a terrible analogy...so I guess there's no accounting for taste (or winning advocacy). The court's fair use analysis was influenced by Judge Boudin's concurrence in Lotus v. Borland, though that concurrence didn't actually call it fair use, but instead "privileged use."

    Others have and will surely write about the fair use aspects and what this means for software APIs. Contrary to Oracle's ridiculous and vitriolic press statement yesterday, this case will likely not change the way anyone in the industry behaves in the least. APIs have been used and reused for decades, and will continue to be. And contrary to being a barrier to entry, reuse of APIs allows for competitive inroads and entry, including by Oracle, in its mimicry of Amazon's AWS API. (Indeed, the hubris of Oracle's statement in light of its implementation of another company's API is stunning.)

    The opinion also has some nuggets for other fair use - discussion of transformation and art, definition of markets for determining harm, another reaffirmation of Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, fair use as a mixed question of law and fact (something I discussed in a prior blog post), and so forth.

    Instead, I will focus on my hobby horse-whether the APIs are copyrighted, and if so how we get to non-infringement. The Supreme Court explicitly decided that the copyrightability of APIs is a third-rail and did not attempt to touch the issue. There are two ways to read the tea leaves. First, perhaps a majority of the court thought they were uncopyrightable, but feared the effects of saying so. Second (and my guess), perhaps a majority of the court (or a 4-4 split) thought that they were copyrightable, but fair use was an acceptable compromise. The second possibility is why I wrote and submitted my amicus brief, which was intended to give a path to non-infringement even if the APIs were copyrightable.

  • Google v. Oracle and the Mixed Question of Law and Fact

    In Google LLC v. Oracle Am., Inc., 593 U. S. ____ (2021), the Supreme Court spends a few pages walking through procedural aspects of the fair use defense.

    Like many patent law doctrines, fair use is a mixed question of law and fact. The defendant’s use of the asserted copyrighted work and its impact on the plaintiff are typically factual issues that must be proven by evidence as weighed by the factfinder (often a jury). These are questions such as “how much of the copyrighted work was copied” and “whether there was harm to the actual or potential markets for the copyrighted work.” Google at 19. However, the questions of law emerge when we are categorizing the importance of the factual findings as well as asking the ultimate question of whether the use was a fair use.

    The fact-law divide comes up in various ways: Is there a Constitutional right to a jury trial on the issue; lacking that may a jury still decide the issue; does proof require evidence (as defined by the Federal Rules of Evidence) proven to a particular standard; or instead do we simply look for the ‘right’ answer; on appeal, what is the standard of review — deference or not? Fact/Law also comes up in patent prosecution, but examiners are not charged with making the distinction and the rules of evidence don’t apply.

    At the trial court this leads to the very practical question of how easily a judge can dispose of the issue pre-trial. Questions of law are often easy to determine pre-trial; some mixed questions are also relatively easy to determine pre-trial if there is no right to a jury determination; mixed questions involving substantial factual disputes and a right to a jury trial are hard. In patent cases, courts are regularly making pre-trial determinations on claim construction and eligibility, both of which are ultimately questions of law but that can involve underlying factual determinations. Obviousness is another mixed question. Although the ultimate determination of obviousness is a question of law, it is treated differently from claim construction and eligibility. Rather than being decided by a judge, obviousness is typically decided by a jury as fact-finder. The difference is that obviousness typically requires detailed factual determinations that are hard to separate from the ultimate conclusion of obviousness and that are subject to a Constitutional right to a jury trial.

    In deciding an issue, a district court will typically s

By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco

  • Over a decade on, and millions in legal fees, Supreme Court rules for Google over Oracle in Java API legal war

    The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in a 6-2 decision that Google's limited copying of Oracle's Java APIs in its Android operating system constitutes fair use under US law.

    The ruling puts an end to a case that troubled the software industry for more than a decade and narrows the scope of copyright law as it applies to software.

    The court had two questions before it: whether software interfaces qualify for copyright protection and whether Google's use of Oracle's software interface code represents fair use, assuming the Java APIs can be copyrighted.

    Oracle filed its lawsuit against Google in 2010, claiming copyright and patent infringement for Google's use of Java APIs in Android. In 2012, after the patent claims had been dismissed, US District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that Oracle's Java APIs did not qualify for copyright protection. In 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed. Google then asked the Supreme Court to review the decision but its petition was denied.

The maximalists

  • In-house: SCOTUS avoids ‘catastrophe’ in Google v Oracle [Ed: Copyright extremists funded by litigious law firms not happy with a decision that basically defended programmers and Fair Use doctrine]

    Sources from four technology companies reveal diverging views about the US Supreme Court's decision to sidestep API copyrightability

SCOTUS Says Google’s Use of Oracle’s Java Code in Android

  • Supreme Court Finds Google’s Use of Oracle’s Java Code in Android Operating System to Be Fair Use

    On April 5, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States held that Google’s use of certain Java Application Programming Interfaces (API) in its Android operating system was not copyright infringement and instead constituted fair use of Oracle’s Sun Java API because Google used “only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program.” In its decision, the Supreme Court articulated important policy considerations underlying its decision, noting that, “given programmers’ investment in learning the Sun Java API here would risk harm to the public. Given the costs and difficulties of producing alternative APIs with similar appeal to programmers, allowing enforcement here would make of the Sun Java API’s declaring code a lock limiting the future creativity of new programs” and interfere with the basic objectives of copyright law. In sum, the Supreme Court relied on policy considerations relating to the ability of programmers to use existing code to support the interoperability of software, a common practice that many in the industry advocated as a practice necessary to sustain the feasibility of mobile computing.

The Google Vs Oracle Saga Is Finally Over.

  • The Google Vs Oracle Saga Is Finally Over. The US Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Google.

    The American Oracle-corporation filed a lawsuit against the American Google-corporation of over Google's use of Java API headers on the Android platform in August 2010. That saga is finally over after it had dragged for more than a decade. The supreme court rules that Google's use of the API headers in questions does not violate Oracle's imaginary property rights.

    The Google vs Oracle court-case over Google's use of Java API headers was kind of a big deal ages ago. Google took 11,500 lines of API headers and structures from Sun's Oracle-owned Java implementation and used that as a vital part of their Android operating system.

    A judge which some programming experience ruled in Google's favor in 2012. Oracle wasn't happy with that outcome, so the court-case dragged on and on. And on. And on. The US supreme court finally ended the whole saga with a ruling in Google's favor on April 5th, 2021.

What Google's API copyright win over Oracle means

  • What Google's API copyright win over Oracle means

    If you listen to Oracle, then the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) deciding that application programming interfaces (API) can't be strictly copyrighted because fair use applies was an awful decision. Google, the victor, disagrees. But, while this was a major win for Google, it was an even bigger win for all software developers -- yes, even Oracle's -- and for open API and open-source software in particular.

Google won... but did we win?

  • Google won... but did we win?

    In the long-running Google v. Oracle lawsuit tango, Google came out on top after the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in favor of Google. So to answer the question in the title... well, first... it's not a zero-sum game.

OSI's statement

  • Google vs Oracle: Resolved in Favor of Open Source

    We are pleased to report that Google vs. Oracle*, the landmark copyright case in the US courts about software interoperability, has been resolved favorably for open source developers. It’s been a long road to get here but it’s something the courts were always going to have to address -- is modern technology best served by the copyright maximalism that has long been promoted by the content industry or should we instead re-examine some of those assumptions to facilitate multi-company platform interoperability? The Supreme Court of the United States did not take on the full scope of the question but did provide some very helpful guidance.

    This was such an important question that OSI filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court to advocate on behalf of the open source community.** We filed in support of Google because the position Oracle was taking -- that it’s a copyright infringement to use API’s even when they are being used solely to create interoperability -- would’ve been disastrous for open source. Shared APIs (application programming interfaces) are essential for interoperability and innovation.

A couple more

  • Google v. Oracle: Lessons for Innovators

    The holding in Google v. Oracle, No. 18-956, slip op. (U.S. Apr. 5, 2021), worth a cool $9 billion, is that Google and others are free, under the fair use doctrine of copyright law, to copy Oracle/Sun’s Java API (application program interface) code. They’re also free, under copyright law, to write their own implementing code or to have others do so. Taking these two points together, Google escaped liability for infringement of Oracle’s copyrighted Java code. They can have Java programmers write apps to run on the Android operating system. And they can thumb their noses at Oracle.

    Let’s unpack the term API for those of us who are not steeped in interface code. An “app” is like a customer walking into a restaurant. The computer on which the app runs is like the kitchen. An API is like the waiter that goes back and forth between the customer and the kitchen. The Supreme Court has just held in Oracle that the waiter has to serve every customer that enters the restaurant.

    Oracle’s predecessor Sun wrote the Java code and made some effort to protect the APIs with patents and copyrights. Google did not want to pay Oracle/Sun for a license to use the Java code in its Android systems. So Google wrote its own code (or at least 99% of it), and it incorporated, that is, copied, the APIs. The Oracle/Sun patents fell by the wayside: A jury found that Google did not infringe Oracle’s patent claims. And now the Supreme Court has held that under copyright law, it was okay for Google to use the APIs without any obligation to Oracle, because (1) Google’s use was held to be new and transformative, (2) the APIs comprised less than 1% of Java’s total code, and (3) the APIs were held to be functional, thus making it “fair use” for Google to copy and use the same.

  • Supreme Court Tech Ruling Could Have Wider Effects on Copyright

    The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Google didn’t infringe Oracle’s copyright when it copied some Java code into early versions of the Android operating system. The decision is—to borrow a Bidenism—a big fucking deal. It will take lawyers and courts years (and thousands of billable hours of attorney time) to work out all the ways this case is going to change copyright practice. But right off the bat, it’s clear that there are at least three important things that this case tells us that go beyond Google’s fight with Oracle—things about the Supreme Court and partisanship, about some fundamental aspects of copyright that we’re still arguing about, and about some of the reasons that copyright isn’t the best tool for everything we’re using it for. It also raises one huge question: What, if anything, does the case mean outside the software industry?

Oracle vs Google: No, the Supreme Court did not say APIs...

  • Oracle vs Google: No, the Supreme Court did not say APIs aren't copyright – and that's a good thing

    You won't be paying an Oracle tax on your next Android phone. After 10 years of Big Red claiming dibs on Android internals and Google telling them to GTFO, the legals have finally been settled by the US Supreme Court. Google has won.

    The case was in many ways a classic troll. Way back when, Google thought Java SE would be a good platform to build its new Android phone around. That didn't work out, thank your favourite deity, so Google wrote its own platform with just enough Java structure to bring caffeinated programmers – of whom there were millions – along for the ride.

    Everyone was happy until Oracle turned up. It fancied a new revenue line for the profit centre it called its legal department. Looking around, Oracle discovered and hauled away the dying Sun with – aha – intellectual property that could be weaponised. Most notably, Google's little shards of Java API. There were other things too, like patents, but they soon fell by the wayside. As the court case crept up the American legal system, it became widely understood to be about whether you can copyright APIs. Oracle said yes, and Google had infringed that copyright. Google said no, and anyway even if it had, the "fair use" aspect of copyright applied.

Google triumphs over Oracle

  • Google triumphs over Oracle

    Recently the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that Google's use did indeed represent fair use under US law and the long-running case is now finished. Oracle was understandably not pleased, while Google declared the decision to be "a victory for consumers, interoperability and computer science". The ruling covered 37 Java APIs and 11,500 lines of copyrighted code so it begs the question of just how much you can "reuse" before being culpable. In a separate ruling, the court also vacated a ruling that found the former US president Donald Trump could not block Twitter users, which opens up the question can Twitter block Twitter users? I suspect we will see a lot more on this last ruling in the coming months.

    - They said it would never happen, but in other Java-related news Microsoft has released its own OpenJDK variant with binaries for Java 11 for macOS, Linux and Windows platforms. Microsoft also plans to make the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK the default distribution for Java 11 across Azure-managed services later this year.

    - Going even further back, nearly 30 years in this case, the eons old case of SCO vs Linux has reared up from the almost dead once more. As one source put it "the software zombie court case to end all zombie software court cases has woken from its slumber". The SCO Group tried from a long time back to get money out of 1,500 companies, without success. IBM was a main target and they ended up paying out a little just to stop the harassment. In more recent times a group called Xinous found some money and are having another go but the word is that they will have even less luck than the SCO Group did back in the day. There is now after all such a thing as Ubuntu for Windows.

Go forth and reimplement your APIs: the April 5th Supreme Court

  • Go forth and reimplement your APIs: the April 5th Supreme Court judgment in Google v. Oracle

    In 2010, when Oracle took over the failing Sun Microsystems and sued Google for USD 9 billion for copying parts of the Java API into Android, to many observers the very notion of copyrighting APIs was a novelty, if not purely absurd. Application Programming Interfaces could be likened to virtual terminals allowing programs to interact with each other. For languages like Java, this is crucial: they are only valuable if many programmers can freely use and improve them, and one cannot implement a language without the APIs. For this reason, Sun had taken no issue with Apache reimplementing Java and was similarly fine distributing for free its own open-source implementation.

    However, what may have been fundamental to software people, proved quite difficult to explain to lawyers. In his 2016 testimony in the Northern District of California, former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz attempted the following analogy: it was like having restaurants fight over rights to an arrangement of hamburgers on a breakfast menu, instead of competing on the product. Judge Alsup, despite having been a programmer himself, admitted the witness was making no sense at all.

    By the time Schwartz immortalized himself with the apparent belief that hamburgers belonged on breakfast menus, Oracle’s campaign had already been waged for four years – since the initial suit in 2010, it had seen a loss on grounds of patents, a loss on copyrightability, then a staggering win on copyrightability on appeal and now was being waged on the aspect of fair use. The jury sided with Google. The Federal Court again reversed on appeal, noting that verbatim copying of others’ work, to use it for the same purpose of function in a competing product, could not be deemed fair. The Supreme Court, already having refused once to hear the case after Oracle’s first successful appeal, this time granted certiorari to rule on the aspect of fair use.

Google v. Oracle: Lessons for Innovators

  • Google v. Oracle: Lessons for Innovators

    The holding in Google v. Oracle, No. 18-956, slip op. (U.S. Apr. 5, 2021), worth a cool $9 billion, is that Google and others are free, under the fair use doctrine of copyright law, to copy Oracle/Sun’s Java API (application program interface) code. They’re also free, under copyright law, to write their own implementing code or to have others do so. Taking these two points together, Google escaped liability for infringement of Oracle’s copyrighted Java code. They can have Java programmers write apps to run on the Android operating system. And they can thumb their noses at Oracle.

    Let’s unpack the term API for those of us who are not steeped in interface code. An “app” is like a customer walking into a restaurant. The computer on which the app runs is like the kitchen. An API is like the waiter that goes back and forth between the customer and the kitchen. The Supreme Court has just held in Oracle that the waiter has to serve every customer that enters the restaurant.

    Oracle’s predecessor Sun wrote the Java code and made some effort to protect the APIs with patents and copyrights. Google did not want to pay Oracle/Sun for a license to use the Java code in its Android systems. So Google wrote its own code (or at least 99% of it), and it incorporated, that is, copied, the APIs. The Oracle/Sun patents fell by the wayside: A jury found that Google did not infringe Oracle’s patent claims. And now the Supreme Court has held that under copyright law, it was okay for Google to use the APIs without any obligation to Oracle, because (1) Google’s use was held to be new and transformative, (2) the APIs comprised less than 1% of Java’s total code, and (3) the APIs were held to be functional, thus making it “fair use” for Google to copy and use the same.

EFF reply reposted

  • Victory For Fair Use: The Supreme Court Reverses The Federal Circuit In Oracle vs Google

    This decision gives more legal certainty to software developers' common practice of using, re-using, and re-implementing software interfaces written by others, a custom that underlies most of the internet and personal computing technologies we use every day.

    To briefly summarize over ten years of litigation: Oracle claims a copyright on the Java APIs--essentially names and formats for calling computer functions--and claims that Google infringed that copyright by using (reimplementing) certain Java APIs in the Android OS. When it created Android, Google wrote its own set of basic functions similar to Java (its own implementing code). But in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google used certain specifications of the Java APIs (sometimes called the "declaring code").

    APIs provide a common language that lets programs talk to each other. They also let programmers operate with a familiar interface, even on a competitive platform. It would strike at the heart of innovation and collaboration to declare them copyrightable.

    EFF filed numerous amicus briefs in this case explaining why the APIs should not be copyrightable and why, in any event, it is not infringement to use them in the way Google did. As we've explained before, the two Federal Circuit opinions are a disaster for innovation in computer software. Its first decision--that APIs are entitled to copyright protection--ran contrary to the views of most other courts and the long-held expectations of computer scientists. Indeed, excluding APIs from copyright protection was essential to the development of modern computers and the internet.

    Then the second decision made things worse. The Federal Circuit's first opinion had at least held that a jury should decide whether Google's use of the Java APIs was fair, and in fact a jury did just that. But Oracle appealed again, and in 2018 the same three Federal Circuit judges reversed the jury's verdict and held that Google had not engaged in fair use as a matter of law.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case. In a 6-2 decision, Justice Breyer explained why Google's use of the Java APIs was a fair use as a matter of law. First, the Court discussed some basic principles of the fair use doctrine, writing that fair use "permits courts to avoid rigid application of the copyright statute when, on occasion, it would stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster."

Oracle v. Google: May 2021 Update

  • Oracle v. Google: May 2021 Update

    Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court decided this case in favor of Google’s fair use argument and rejecting the Federal Circuit’s opposite conclusion. On remand, the Federal Circuit has now issued a short order in the case sending it back down to the District Court.

    In its order, the Federal Circuit recalled its mandate in the case “solely with respect to fair use.” That means that its judgment favoring Oracle on the question of copyrightability still stands. Finally, the “district court’s final judgment in favor of Google is affirmed.” Neither party had filed additional briefs in the appeal following the Supreme Court’s decision.

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Security and DRM Leftovers

Linux 5.15-rc3

So after a somewhat rocky merge window and second rc, things are now
actually looking pretty normal for rc3. Knock wood.

There are fixes all over, and the statistics look fairly regular, with
drivers dominating as they should (since they are most of the tree).
And outside of drivers, we have a fairly usual mix of changes -
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Shortlog appended, it's not too long and easy to scan through to get a
flavor for the details if you happen to care.

Please do give it a whirl,

             Linus

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