Jury mulls verdict in Oracle-v-Google Java spat
Phase one of trial nears completion
The jury in the copyright trial between Oracle and Google over the use of Java in Android has retired to consider its verdict after closing arguments from both sides.
Judge William Alsup gave the jurors a 21-page document with guidelines of how to review the case, telling them that they should ignore the arguments of lawyers and concentrate on the statements of witnesses in deciding the case. They should also consider if Google's defense of "fair use" of the 37 Java APIs is reasonable.
"The public may use any copyrighted work in a reasonable way under the circumstances without the consent of the copyright owner if it would be in the public interest," he advised. "Such use of copyright work is called "fair use." The owner of the copyright cannot prevent others from making fair use of the owner's copyrighted work."
This doctrine was key to Google's closing arguments on Monday. Google counsel Robert Van Nest said that Google had written its own code APIs to mimic Java under fair use, rather than stealing it. He also pointed out that former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz had testified that Google was in the clear and that Sun didn't have a problem with Android, something he blogged about when congratulating Google on the launch of Android.
Blogs do not make a business case, fired back Oracle's attorney Michael Jacobs. He pointed to a few lines of code that were identical to Java and said that it was clear that Google was on the wrong side of the law in this case. He also highlighted emails showing Google may have been worried about patent infringement.
The jury will now consider the case, which is the first of three trials over Java. This copyright phase is however the most important, and is likely to be a bellwether for the case as a whole. ®
Re: so if APIs are copyrightable...
Yes, if Oracle wins this lawsuit and it becomes a precedent, the whole software industry will get shaken up. If you can't use someone's APIs without paying, then the cost to develop software just got way more expensive.
Re: From James Gosling (father of Java at Sun and recent ex-Googler) himself
Gosling seems to have a self-serving view of patent law. When Sun was taken to task by IBM for nicking their RISC IP, Gosling said that all the patent meant was that "if you make something simpler, it will go faster"... which is on its face ludicrous. It is like saying that Java should have no patent protection because if you enable something to be written once, it will be more efficient. John Cocke, IBM inventor of RISC, didn't win every engineer prize in the world for writing down "if you make something simpler, it will go faster" on a napkin. RISC was a genuine innovation.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, with a much more ambiguous Java IP licensing structure, Gosling thinks Sun/Oracle is clearly in the right. They may be, but Gosling seems to be fine when he or his friends borrow other peoples work, not so fine when other people borrow their work.
From from I can see, Oracle is trying to negotiate up Google's dumb literal copying of some code (example they gave was a bog standard range check routine!) into a crime against humanity.