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Google Java Oracle Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

Jury Rules Google Violated Java Copyright, Google Moves For Mistrial 475

Posted by Soulskill
from the opening-a-big-can-of-worms dept.
eldavojohn writes "Details are thin, but the long-covered Oracle v. Google trial has at least partially been decided in favor of Oracle. The jury says Google violated copyrights with Android when it used Java APIs to design the system. Google moved for a mistrial after hearing the incomplete decision. The patent infringement accusations have yet to be ruled upon."
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Jury Rules Google Violated Java Copyright, Google Moves For Mistrial

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  • by rewt66 (738525) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:03PM (#39919057)

    The jury was instructed that APIs were copyrightable. They found that Google infringed Sun/Oracle's Java API. But the judge will actually decide later whether APIs are in fact copyrightable (which question will almost certainly go to the Supreme Court before it's all over).

    So what the jury actually decided doesn't mean much. It means that Google copied the Java API. Well, yeah, we knew that already.

  • Re:With the judge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:26PM (#39919345)

    This is the same judge that basically told the jury Google was guilty before they started to deliberate. Thus Googles call for a mistrial.

    Can you please return your geek credentials? The judge didn't tell the jury Google was guilty, that's about the worst bullshit I've ever heard. The judge told the jury to assume that Oracles stuff was protected by copyright, and _then_ to decide whether the evidence said that Google actually copied or not.

    The jury has decided, on the evidence, that Google copied Oracle's APIs. NOW the judge will decide whether this API is protected by copyright or not.

    To explain this with a car analogy: There may be a legal argument whether you own a car or not. When you drive away in the car, you are accused of theft. The jury will decide whether there is evidence to prove that you took the car. The judge will decide whether the car was yours (and you were allowed to take it) or not (in which case taking it was theft).

  • by ukemike (956477) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:27PM (#39919355) Homepage
    Spoken like a person who has never served on a jury. The jury probably represents the last vestige of true participatory government left in the US. They do great work and deserve our heartfelt thanks. Most decisions by juries that people find to be badly decided are the result of bad instructions from the judge or evidence that has been withheld for one reason or another.
  • by bws111 (1216812) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:27PM (#39919357)

    Those APIs are providing access to a service. They are not charging for using the API, they are charging for the service. Not the same thing at all.

  • by harperska (1376103) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:28PM (#39919371)

    By my understanding of the case, there were several things that needed to be decided, specifically 1. whether APIs can be copyrighted, and 2. if they can, do the facts of the case support the argument that Google did violate them? It is certainly possible that legally APIs can be copyrighted, but Dalvik is derivative enough that it doesn't count as a violation. Because of the timing of things, and to ensure expediency, the judge asked the jury to rule on #2 before #1 even though #2 technically depends on #1. If the jury decides to acquit on #2, then Google is off the hook regardless of what is later decided on #1.

    IANAL, but it is not as simple as 'the judge instructed the jury to assume X, therefore X is true'.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:33PM (#39919441) Homepage Journal

    How about the still-quite-alive-and-American(thus subject to American copyright rulings) Donald Knuth, who is the quite demonstrated owner of a very large selection of API designs?

  • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:34PM (#39919455) Homepage

    Well, I, for one, support Google.

    They are in the business to sell advertising. If you do not buy advertising, then you have probably never paid a dime directly to Google. I hate to say it, but invading privacy is just part of the business. How MUCH a part of the business is definitely open for debate, however.

    It is a balancing act. No invasion of privacy = no money. Too much = evil.

    I admit that everything that they have done has NOT been perfect, and there have been many mis-steps. However, for a company of their size, they do indeed manage to be the least evil. To me, Apple is very very evil. Microsoft is evil. Sony is evil. Google is fairly benign.

    Name another company that size that is as friendly to open source software. Name another one that gives you as much stuff for free (yes, I know -- paid for by advertising to you). Name another company that actually CARES about not being evil. Apple and Microsoft simply care about the bottom line -- period.

    No, Google is not perfect, but they could be a LOT worse, and they seem to actually care.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:39PM (#39919527)

    Why are people up voting your drivel. Your points may be correct but you are FAR too rude.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:44PM (#39919587)

    The truth doesn't need to be pleasant to be informative.

  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:47PM (#39919637)

    Google didn't, Apache did. Google just used Apache Harmony's standard library.

    What groups funded/helped with the Apache Harmony project? IBM and *Oracle*.

    Now Oracle is suing Google for using the software that *Oracle* helped develop, because they bought the original implementation and want a cut of the Android money.

  • by drakaan (688386) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:48PM (#39919651) Homepage Journal

    Maybe so, but this case has nothing to do with those abuses. Google took Apache Harmony (you know, a free, open-source, Apache-licensed implementation of the Java APIs...not GPL, but still open source) and built Android.

    Sun was happy about it, Google was happy about it, the Java language got more widely used...

    Oracle had a different point of view, wanted money, and had trouble convincing a jury [groklaw.net] who was *told* to assume that the APIs were copyrightable that the few remaining copyright claims Oracle brought were valid.

    ...also, in Europe, they just decided rather definitively that APIs are not copyrightable.

    The worst part of this all is that now we go on to the "patent" part of the trial, which is just silly because we're talking about software (turning one number into another number based on a set of rules...aka an algorithm, which is not patentable subject matter).

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:49PM (#39919669)

    They're not moving for a complete mistrial, from what I understand. The jury couldn't reach a unanimous decision on whether or not Google's use of Oracle code constituted fair use or not (and they were told to assume it was copyrightable, which is also a decision that the judge still needs to rule on), so the judge postponed the fair use decision. Google is moving for a mistrial with regards to the question of fair use in particular (because of the odd way in which it's being postponed and whatnot?), but is fine with the rest of the ruling handed down by the jury. So, it IS a win for Google, but they want to close off the open end.

    Note: I was curious about it just as you are, so I figured I'd read over at Groklaw quickly to find the answer, but I haven't been following the trial and am not a regular Groklaw reader, so I'll admit that I had some difficulty pulling together this answer. Take with salt. Also, IANAL, in case that wasn't already obvious.

  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:56PM (#39919771)

    Can you please return your geek credentials? The judge didn't tell the jury Google was guilty,

    True. But on the point that the jury did find (that, before considering the fair use defense and assuming that APIs are copyrightable), the judge essentially directed the jury that Google had infringed. The jury instructions included both:
    1. An instruction that, on the issue of the "API copyright" point, infringement should be found if the defendant had access to the copyright-protected work and the alleged-infringing work was substantially similar, and
    2. A note that Google had admitted that the APIs at issue were substantially similar to those that the jury was instructed to assume were protected.

    If Google admitted that the APIs were substantially similar, then the instruction was perfectly correct. Why should the jury not be reminded that a party admitted an essential element of a judgment of infringement?

    The grandparent wrongly attributed the request for a mistrial to the content of the jury instructions. That is not why Google is asking for a mistrial in the copyright phase. Google essentially argued that APIs are not copyrightable (question of law for the judge to resolve, as you touched upon) and that even if the APIs were copyrightable, the use was fair use (question of fact for the jury to resolve). In order for fair use to be relevant, there has to be a prima facie case for copyright infringement. As I understand it Google has conditionally admitted that there is such a case, and raised its fair use defense. The request for a mistrial is due to the fact that the jury did not resolve the key question before it -- was the copyright infringment (if the API is protected by copyright) excused as fair use.

    If the jury hangs on a key judgment, it is normal to request a mistrial since the question must be resolved by the jury (absent settlement or agreement by the parties to convert the issue to one to be resolved by a bench decision). A hung verdict does not tranlate into either "guilty" or "not guilty" (in the terms of the discussion -- there is no finding of "guilt" as such in a civil case). A new trial can be held and directed only to the copyright aspect at a later date (assuming no other jury-related issues arise), and the patent phase can proceed.

  • GNU/Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @04:57PM (#39919785) Homepage Journal

    The issue is that Google set out with j
    The Java API manual and recreated them ALL with the same names and function calls, etc... That's pushing it even for open source projects.

    As opposed to Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman starting with the UNIX manual and painstakingly recreating all the APIs?

  • by Muros (1167213) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:02PM (#39919875)

    They are in the business to sell advertising. If you do not buy advertising, then you have probably never paid a dime directly to Google. I hate to say it, but invading privacy is just part of the business. How MUCH a part of the business is definitely open for debate, however.

    I presonally, would rather pay money to a company, than have them invade my privacy. Of course, I'd like to not have to pay money to them in order to have them not invade my privay –that would be a protection racket.

    You can choose not to let them have your private details in any meaningful way. Don't subscribe to any of their services, delete your cookies, and hit the reset button on your router every now and then. They will have search history from you that is only attributable to your local ISP DHCP pool. They should not be able to identify you in any way, unless law enforcement get involved and force the ISP to match the IP address you had at any given time to a real world address.

  • by ljw1004 (764174) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:04PM (#39919903)

    US annual expenditure on advertising: about $280bil - http://www.galbithink.org/ad-spending.htm [galbithink.org]
    US population: about 300mil

    So I'm spending $1000/year on Google and other companies to thrust unwanted ads in my face (maybe closer to $2000/year if you discount young+old). I don't even pay Apple that much. Calling Google's stuff "free" is a misdirection.

  • by isleshocky77 (962627) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:09PM (#39919977)

    And Miskaata is right.

    Congratulations on agreeing with Miskaata. 2.6M sequential ids and you're within 10 numbers of him. Seems fishy.

  • by slippyblade (962288) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:31PM (#39920259) Homepage

    Or you could, I don't know... Not use Google services. Wow - revolutionary idea, huh?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:33PM (#39920283) Journal

    Copying the "structure, sequence, and organization" of the Java APIs is the definition of implementing an object-oriented interface, regardless of the specifics of the implementation.

    Sure. But jury decision is perfectly logical and reasonable if you start with the premise that APIs are copyrightable (which they were instructed by the judge to do).

    By itself, the jury decision (note: there's no ruling yet) does not have any meaning unless and until the judge actually rules that APIs are copyrightable. Logic and common sense dictate that they are not, and his interest in the recent EU decision seems to indicate that he may agree with that. If so, this would actually be better than jury decision because it would then set a precedent regarding API copyrightability, which (unless it gets appealed) would seal this issue in US once and for all.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:35PM (#39920311) Journal

    Wow what? The jury was instructed to assume that APIs are copyrightable. From that assumption, they have logically concluded that Google has indeed infringed on Oracle's copyright - how could they rule otherwise, given that Google did implement the same exact APIs?

    This jury decision is 1) fully expected, and 2) means nothing whatsoever until the judge actually decides on the copyrightability.

  • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:45PM (#39920435)

    Or Miguel de Icaza starting with the .NET framework documentation and creating Mono?

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:45PM (#39920441) Homepage Journal

    This is google's direct chance to get the whole software -> patents thing invalidated. Many have been unwilling to fight for getting such a ruling, but I would bet a lot of money on google setting this up to invalidate patents on software.

    Google uses those same laws to fuck their own competitors as well, and thus has little incentive to get anything changed.

    As much as I would like to see such a ruling myself, I highly doubt any large corporation would be championing it.

  • by celle (906675) on Monday May 07, 2012 @05:58PM (#39920631)

    "It is a balancing act. No invasion of privacy = no money. Too much = evil."

        There is no balancing act. Any invasion of privacy is evil. Just because everyone else does it or the system is there to do it or that it's generally accepted doesn't make it less evil. Google is evil just smart enough not to irritate the "golden goose" unlike the other evil (facebook,etc) out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:10PM (#39920783)
    So don't buy from companies that advertise. They are only spending your money if you give it to them. Buy from others and keep that $1000 to yourself.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:49PM (#39921275)

    That's bullshit and you know it. They don't use Java, they made their own version of Java (the language). According to your idiotic logic, no one should be allowed to make a different C compiler.

  • by baileydau (1037622) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @06:12AM (#39925499)

    Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but wasn't the basis of the BSD ruling that API's weren't copyrightable???

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:31AM (#39926713) Homepage Journal

    Hey, dumb ass, did I talk about Oracle?

    This is a government created problem, this can only be resolved by abolishing the government from meddling with economics on this level (on any level, but this story is about copyrights and patents here, not anything else).

    It's not up to Oracle, it's up to the people deciding what sort of a system they want - a system where gov't is allowed to intervene and create laws that destroy innovation and businesses with copyright and patent laws or a free society with a free economy - free of government created monopolies, free from gov't counterfeiting the money while pretending that copyrights mean anything except less competition and higher prices and less choices.

    The fact that you can't understand my comment based on what it said (and probably you are following my comments all the time, because you are quite pathetic) and based on all my previous comments, so the context is obvious... to think that I am a socialist... I just vomited in your general direction.

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