back to article Jury retires for weekend in deadlock in Oracle-v-Google verdict

The jury in the trial between Oracle and Google over alleged copyright infringement of Java in the Android operating system has retired for the weekend after stalling on a single point of law. The jury of seven women and five men began mulling the issue on Tuesday and have now reported that a verdict has been reached on three …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Besides Larry Page and Jonathan Schwartz

    the author simply and truly forgot to mention about the other Larry's performance or about Scott McNealy straight face lying in court.

    1. LarsG

      they are guilty or they are not

      a simple yes or no question made more difficult to answer by manipulating lawyers who stand to gain very hefty fees.

    2. Billl

      Re: Besides Larry Page and Jonathan Schwartz

      El Reg did comment on Larry Page's and Scott McNeally's testimony in an earlier article. If you believe that Scott McNeally lied, you may want to read the blog post by James Gosling, Java's creator and all around Oracle hater:

  2. CABVolunteer

    Don't assume the APIs are copyrighted!

    "They appear to be clear on the question of APIs being covered by copyright"

    Well, yes, but that's because Judge Alsup has told the jury to ASSUME that the APIs are copyright! The jury has to decide whether Google's use of the APIs is "fair use" or "de minimis", effectively deciding whether or not Google has infringed on this *assumed* copyright.

    If the jury decides that the assumed copyright has been infringed, then the judge will rule on whether APIs *are* copyrightable - if he decides they are not, then the jury's verdict on this aspect of the case becomes irrelevant (unless the judge's ruling is later overturned by the Appeals Court). Of course, if the jury rules that no copyright has been infringed, then the judge will heave a sigh of relief and not have to make a landmark ruling on the copyrightability of APIs.

    Then Phase II of the trial starts....

    Complicated? Nah!

  3. SilverWave

    impasse on one of the first three questions on the form

    Not really:

    "Judge Alsup tells them they don't have to reach agreement on question 4. That's just advice for him, because he has to decide that in the end. No, they tell him they are at an impasse on one of the first three questions on the form."

    1. As to the compilable code for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group:

    A. Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed the overall structure, sequence and organization of copyrighted works?

    2. As to the documentation for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group:

    A. Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed?

    3. Has Oracle proven that Google’s conceded use of the following was infringing, the only issue being whether such use was de minimis:



  4. Mike Judge

    in other words..

    They have taken the weekend off to be swayed by media bias.

    Mistrial methinks....

  5. sueme2

    Can you copyright cooking?

    in one of my very early CS lectures, it was explained: A computer program is just like a recipe like you use in the kitchen.

    In this case G have read the text, substitued their own ingrediants, and froze/baked a similar morsel.

    O does not like the taste and spat the dummy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Sorry to say, but that analogy is flawed.

      First the recipe... Its not the final product; that would be the actual food you prepared. As such the recipe is basically a /method/ which you can use / follow to create the end product (the food).

      A computer program on the other hand is an end product by itself. Its a product created by a computer programmer just like a nice dish is a product created by a cook.

      So to go back to your analogy: a better description would be to think of the recipe as the documentation for a computer language. The cooking would be equal to the programming and the end products would be the food and computer program.

      1. vic 4

        Re: @sueme2 - Its not the final product

        It is if you are publishing the recipe.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Assume APIs are copyrightable

    This has to be what is holding the jury up... as it was an absurd instruction which almost certainly to be grounds for appeal by Google if Oracle wins. It has always be assumed that APIs were not copyrightable, specifically within Java... as it would have destroyed the entire ecosystem. I assume that the Judge will make a "ruling of law" that APIs are not copyrightable even if the jury finds a violation of copyright because they were told to assume APIs are copyrightable.... I honestly don't know what is taking the jury so long if they are following the judge's instructions. If you are told to assume that APIs are Oracle's copyright, clearly Google violated that "copyright." Unless this judge wants to throw the whole software industry on its head, he has to rule that APIs are fair use... particularly because Sun has been telling people Java APIs are fair use since forever.

    1. Rolf Howarth

      Of course APIs are copyrightable

      Of course APIs are copyrightable, just like any other non-trivial body of text is. If you break an application down into fine enough components and give all your classes and methods nice descriptive names, ie. self-documenting code, then the class and method signatures encapsulate your entire design and represent a sizeable chunk of your entire code base. How can that not be protected by copyright? Otherwise it would be like taking a novel, keeping the title and character names and chapter names and plot the same but rewriting all the paragraphs, then claiming it as your own original work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

        Yes, specific instantiations of APIs are copyrightable. As you write, like anything written down and somewhat original. The difference here is that Oracle isn't just asserting that Google verbatim copied their code, which Google has admitted they did in a small number of classes and have already removed from Android. Oracle is asserting that the concepts behind these APIs are copyrightable because of the unique way these 37 APIs were brought together. To use your book example, Oracle is stating that organizing a book into chapters with page numbers and an understandable structure is a unique invention, so everyone that writes a book should at least potentially have to pay them unless they have made their book's structure sufficiently unique. They are not stating that you can't use character name "Jenny" in the context of their novel. They are asserting that you can't use the concept of a "character" if it is combined with other elements of their novel structure. As it is damn difficult to think of a unique way to structure a book or a set of APIs outside of Java's core packages, it is going to be a fire storm. The verbatim copying is a small issue and Oracle doesn't care that much about it because it is no longer an issue and might result in Google having to kick them a relatively small amount of cash. They want rights to the unique superstructure of APIs in the Java core packages regardless of if they were clean roomed or not. It would result in the craziest fury of lawsuits in the history of IT if they prevail. They are trying to get IP protection for an idea, not the particular instantiation of an idea.

        This article gives the low down of what Oracle is trying to do:

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

        This whole thing is even further complicated because Sun released all of the core APIs under the GPL. If this had been a completely closed source run time, then it might be a stronger argument. Oracle is now trying to say that: yes, the APIs taken individually are not subject to copyright... 1) because the concepts are not original to Java and are too basic (like parts of speech) to be Oracle property. 2) Because Sun open sourced them.... However, if you use a certain set of APIs in a unique way pre-created by Sun, then taken as a collective work they can be copyrightable and require a license regardless if you used their actual code or if you used slightly altered code base, Harmony, to instantiate their concept. It is the craziest thing ever because, if this goes through, everyone who has developed a program in Java will have to guess if they are using the APIs in a non-unique, to Sun/Oracle, arrangement or if Sun/Oracle has a claim to license the collective manner in which you used their APIs which, as a collective arrangement, make them Oracle property.... In other words, just stop writing anything using Java because if you are really successful with whatever you are writing then Oracle is going to come up with some way in which you combined their APIs to create a unique work which is the property of Oracle.... I honestly don't know what people are going to do if this goes through. Does AT&T then have a lawsuit against Oracle because Java was partially based upon unique combinations of C and C++ at Bell Labs?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable


        Neither API's nor programming languages are copyrightable, according to the EU Court of Justice:


        The Court recalls, first, that the Directive on the legal protection of computer programs extends copyright protection to the expression in any form of an intellectual creation of the author of a computer program. However, ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its interfaces, are not protected by copyright under that directive.

        Thus, only the expression of those ideas and principles is protected by copyright. The object of the protection conferred by Directive 91/250 is the expression in any form of a computer program, such as the source code and the object code, which permits reproduction in different computer languages. On the basis of those considerations, the Court holds that neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression. Accordingly, they do not enjoy copyright protection.


        1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

          Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

          Ahh.. you expect the Merkins to listen to the EU (in an entirely different jurisdiction*), do you?

          * Not muddying the waters with the fact that copyright is covered by the Beren convention etc so it could actually make sense that the judge follows the EU ruling - depending on etc...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

            > Ahh.. you expect the Merkins to listen to the EU (in an entirely

            > different jurisdiction*), do you?

            Actually, yes I do. It has already happened.

            Had you actually followed the trial, you would have read that this past Thursday, judge Alsup asked both parties [Oracle and Google] to file briefs stating their legal position in light of the recent EU Court of Justice ruling I just quoted. The deadline for these briefs is May 14.

            Check the facts, and read the actual text of the EU ruling.

        2. Rolf Howarth

          Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

          "neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression. Accordingly, they do not enjoy copyright protection."

          How does that contradict what I said? I didn't say programming languages, file formats or the functionality of a computer program enjoy copyright protection. Of course they don't. I said that the class and method signatures of your program do. If you're a C++ programmer, your header files are just as much part of your copyrightable source code as any files you write.

        3. Tom 13

          @AC 7-May-12 01:07 GMT

          You fail lawyering 001. The first and most important consideration in preparing for a case is knowing the court in which it will be tried. As this case is being tried between two American companies in an American court, your quote is irrelevant.

          1. Carl

            Re: @AC 7-May-12 01:07 GMT

            And you fail lawyering 000.

            When Hicks and Gillette sought an injuction against the Liverpool FC board, the judge in Dallas *totally* fell into line behind the ruling in the London High Court.

            Besides, what the author fails to mention, aside from Ellison and McNealey's blatant dissembling is that whatever the jury says is potentially mute because the judge has reserved decisions on copyright as a matter of law for himself.

            He has already instructed counsel to brief him on what they think about the EU ruling.

            For likely outcome, see above.

      4. Carl

        Re: Of course APIs are copyrightable

        Yes, except this isn't a novel.

        It isn't even a collection of comics.

        Rather, it's the listing of comic titles that live in a library.

        A public library that Google was welcome to come into and browse and make notes the same as everyone else.

        They even had the blessing and encouragement of the head librarian.

        The case is a nonsense.

        Thank god the judge reserved judgment for himself.

  7. br14

    The recipe analogy is fine.

    The language is the recipe.

    Google has taken Oracles recipe verbatim, but used a different pan.

    It's the recipe that is copyright. Not the pan.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where are all the fandroids now?

    They seem conspicuously absent from the postings now that their stealing ways have been brought to light. If you only came up with your own VM based language you wouldn't be in the predicament you face right now. I mean this brings to light the darker side of the free movement in computing, that of wanting it free no matter what the cost to others. You don't have to look far at the bulk of free software to see the lack of effort or caring. Most of it is very crudely put together and sorely lacking in anything original.

    1. KirstarK

      Re: Where are all the fandroids now?

      The case is stupid.

      Anyone with a brain realises that Oracles case is flawed. Thats why Android users have not filled these threads with comments. Also Android users do not consider their phone OS a religeon the way Apple users do.

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