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Author Topic: Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL  (Read 819 times)

w3bcrawler

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Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL
« on: May 28, 2016, 08:01:00 AM »
Hello everyone,

I hope you're well on this day. Something has been brought to my attention through social media and I thought I would share it with you. It's the result of a legal battle regarding Google's use (in proprietary software) of Oracle's Java API and the case has quite immense implications for anyone who has written free software, which is why I am sharing it. Google won the case.

First link, an op-ed article on Ars in regards to the case and case law:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/05/op-ed-oracle-attorney-says-googles-court-victory-might-kill-the-gpl/

Second link, an article written by the lawyer who represented Oracle in this case:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/death-free-software-how-google-killed-gpl-annette-hurst

I initially dismissed this as fearmongering, but the reality is that successful cases which aren't appealed (or lose on appeals) tend to be regarded as legal precedents - on which future cases/case law is decided. If you are a developer, I encourage you to keep a close eye on this case, further similar cases, and any appeals that may occur in the near future.

w3bcrawler

Jibz

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Re: Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2016, 08:42:54 AM »
That seems a bit far fetched -- the GPL covers the code, not the API.

Quick google:

https://www.publickn...opyrightability-apis

w3bcrawler

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Re: Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2016, 09:12:56 AM »
That seems a bit far fetched -- the GPL covers the code, not the API.

Quick google:

https://www.publickn...opyrightability-apis


That's why I initially dismissed it as fearmongering. However, the precedent set is that Google's use of Oracle's API is 'fair use' (which happens to be over >10,000 lines of code, used in software contained in billions of 'instances' of products). Google argued that because of the fair use, any licensing restrictions should be disregarded. And they won. There's still a chance this could be appealed, however it sets a dangerous precedent. Anyone who has an API that is freely usable can have it integrated by a larger company (which could tax a smaller company's systems) with impunity towards the API's/creator's license. This also invites further speculation regarding copyright law because not even copyright experts/scholars/academics could see this ruling coming.

From the second paragraph in the first article I linked:

The Oracle v. Google trial concluded yesterday when a jury returned a verdict in Google's favor. The litigation began in 2010, when Oracle sued Google, saying that the use of Java APIs in Android violated copyright law. After a 2012 trial, a judge held that APIs can't be copyrighted at all, but that ruling was overturned on appeal. In the trial this month, Google successfully argued that its use of Java APIs, about 11,500 lines of code in all, was protected by "fair use."

Richard Stallman can agree/disagree all he wants - he's simply the creator of GPL, he has no sway over it's legal interpretation beyond what has already been committed to the GPL.

Jibz

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Re: Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2016, 09:49:08 AM »
I don't know if it's my browser, but the two links you provided are the exact same article on two different sites?

Deozaan

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Re: Oracle v. Google and Resulting Implications for GPL
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2016, 12:48:39 PM »
I don't know if it's my browser, but the two links you provided are the exact same article on two different sites?

It's not just you. It's the same article, same author.

I also don't get what's being proposed in the article (or the OP). A public API is, by definition, open to the public.

« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 12:58:42 PM by Deozaan »