Linked by ddc_ on Mon 30th May 2016 18:55 UTC
Oracle and SUN

After Oracle's expected and well-deserved loss versus Google, Oracle's attorney Annette Hurst published an op-ed about the potential impact of the case on the legal landscape of the software development industry. The op-ed focuses on one particular aspect of Google's position, which author puts as following:

[B]ecause the Java APIs have been open, any use of them was justified and all licensing restrictions should be disregarded. In other words, if you offer your software on an open and free basis, any use is fair use.

This position, as she claims, puts GPL in jeopardy: common dual-licensing schemes (GPL+proprietary license) depends on developers' ability to enforce the terms of GPL.

It is pretty obvious that the danger of this case for the GPL and the open source community is heavily overstated - the amount of attention this case have received is due to the fact that the developer community never really considered header files as copyrightable assets. The whole "GPL in jeopardy" claim, as well as a passage saying that "[n]o copyright expert would have ever predicted [use of header files for reimplementation of an API] would be considered fair", is merely an attempt to deceive readers.

The interesting bit is why Oracle's lawyer tries to pose her client's attempt at squeezing some coins from Google as an act of defending the free software community. Does Oracle still think the open source proponents may regard it as an ally, even after Sun's acquisition and the damage it dealt to OpenSolaris, OpenOffice and MySQL projects?

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WordPress plugins
by CaptainN- on Mon 30th May 2016 20:02 UTC
CaptainN-
Member since:
2005-07-07

I don't know if this clears up anything really - lawyers (who make up all 3 branches of government at this point in the US) see these things very differently from engineers.

My read on this is that it does set a pretty clear line for the "public APIs". This lawyer seems to want to expand that to include to any and all copyrighted material. That's a bizarre jump, as that is absolutely not what is being discussed in the case.

Anyway, it may clear some things up in at least one area involving WordPress. The core devs have a well known position that you basically can't write any plugin or theme code for use with WordPress that isn't covered by GPL even if you write to their public APIs, because all that is ultimately derived from GPL copyrighted API code.

This decision, in the way this lawyer has described, would seem to make it clear that just using the API in your own plugin or theme code does not mean copyleft applies to your code. On the other hand, this was probably already clear to most people except those at Automattic.

Anyway, I'm not a lawyer, and they see everything differently anyway.

Reply Score: 6

Sadly
by Treza on Mon 30th May 2016 20:26 UTC
Treza
Member since:
2006-01-11

It is still quite sad that Google did not give a penny to Sun, after benefitting so much from what they have developed.

The relatively cheap Sun workstations (compared to HP, IBM) and many things that Sun developed helped a lot the open source ecosystem. So much that it eventually killed Sun.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Sadly
by tylerdurden on Mon 30th May 2016 21:16 UTC in reply to "Sadly"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Maybe SUN should have been smarter about the technologies they had?

Edited 2016-05-30 21:17 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Sadly
by Treza on Mon 30th May 2016 22:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Sadly"
Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

Maybe Sun should have been less naïve.
Maybe Sun should have been as evil as its competitors.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Sadly
by segedunum on Tue 31st May 2016 00:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sadly"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Maybe Sun should have been less naïve.

Not sure that they were naive. They just didn't have a clue.

Maybe Sun should have been as evil as its competitors.

Maybe they should have got up off their arse and did some work?

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Sadly
by mmrezaie on Tue 31st May 2016 13:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Sadly"
mmrezaie Member since:
2006-05-09

I do agree. Ever since java 1.4 came out the ecosystem stagnated. They missed so many big steps like functional languages, higher order function implementations for distributed systems, actors, pure shitty way of memory handling, domain specific languages and etcetera. Although most of these things that I pointed out were being developed by almost the same people whom were involved with first Java releases.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Sadly
by segedunum on Tue 31st May 2016 13:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Sadly"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft was absolutely terrified Sun would create an application programming layer above the OS, and independent of it, and the excitement over the Java language was such that Microsoft would lose desktop developers to it.

They pissed themselves with laughter when Sun appeared not to know what to do next and didn't follow through.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Sadly
by dionicio on Tue 31st May 2016 01:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sadly"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

SUN decided to be just an Engineering Company. Blindly. Sadly.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Sadly
by CaptainN- on Tue 31st May 2016 00:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Sadly"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

Exactly. Whatever terms SUN had on offer for Google to use their tech, Google clearly decided it was a better deal to just write their own - even though that put them in a significant performance hole for a long time. I can't say that's entirely on Google.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sadly
by Licaon_Kter on Mon 30th May 2016 22:17 UTC in reply to "Sadly"
Licaon_Kter Member since:
2010-03-19

Hope they update their installer picture and subtract the Android devices from those 3 billion. ;)

Also, the point that GPL needs more enforcing in real courts is a real thing, not the way they spin in but in general.

Edited 2016-05-30 22:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Sadly
by segedunum on Tue 31st May 2016 00:00 UTC in reply to "Sadly"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

It is still quite sad that Google did not give a penny to Sun, after benefitting so much from what they have developed.

It's sad that Sun sat around on its arse and did absolutely nothing to Java to drive it forwards into something that people wanted to use. Once the language's initial excitement started to wear off they really had no idea how to drive it forwards, especially on the client. Java's popularity has largely been in spite of Sun, rather than because of it.

The relatively cheap Sun workstations (compared to HP, IBM) and many things that Sun developed helped a lot the open source ecosystem. So much that it eventually killed Sun.

Cheap Sun workstations?!! Bloody hell. I don't think I ever saw any such thing - and that's being relative. They were all replaced overnight with x86 machines running Linux at a fraction of the cost. Others saw this coming. Sun laughably tried to tell everyone that you couldn't use Linux for anything and tried to keep their SPARC chips going.

Sun killed itself because it didn't see the inevitable and didn't do anything at all with the tech they had. Trying to claim that they were entitled to a chunk of the pie someone else had created because they hadn't done it is really quite laughable, and desperately sad.

However, given how much Oracle paid for Sun, and how much it is still costing them, the payoff in this trial was quite important. It's funny that how much they are claiming is as much as they paid for Sun. The funny thing is that I can probably see Oracle selling off Sun for very little, possibly to Google.

Edited 2016-05-31 00:06 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Sadly
by dionicio on Tue 31st May 2016 01:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Sadly"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Good memory, segedunum: "...Java's popularity has largely been in spite of Sun, rather than because of it..." At some point SUN became a real drag to the Language evolution.

But on behalf of a SUN not here anymore: What weight has the Java developers of today? Even deserve the name 'Community'? [They're not even their 'clients'].

Just because the Code is there, could you say it's Open? Have you read the Terms of Agreement? Gosh!

[Actual Java is such a 'mesh' of Corporative interests that independent coders are like mascots on a 'exquisite' cut glass Store].

Why so low interest in the new languages and environments? Does this mess give Software Houses any idea?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Sadly
by Alfman on Tue 31st May 2016 15:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Sadly"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

segedunum,

It's sad that Sun sat around on its arse and did absolutely nothing to Java to drive it forwards into something that people wanted to use. Once the language's initial excitement started to wear off they really had no idea how to drive it forwards, especially on the client. Java's popularity has largely been in spite of Sun, rather than because of it.


Sun really did a lot for Java, Solaris, and Open Source. They had good engineers, and IMHO they were going in the right direction with Java Web Start. The problem for Sun is that they had a weak consumer presence compared to microsoft and apple, neither of whom really wanted java to succeed. MS distributed a notoriously poor JVM and was using it's windows dominance to fragment Java. Apple's iron fist approach to IOS permanently ended the prospects that any third party platform could run everywhere. Google's new incompatible implementation for android certainly didn't help.


Java proved popular in in the enterprise market, but even there it seems like Sun was having trouble making enough money to sustain it's operation. Treza may have said it best "Maybe Sun should have been as evil as its competitors."

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Sadly
by segedunum on Wed 1st Jun 2016 12:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sadly"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm afraid these are just very poor excuses for not following through. They had everything they needed to break Microsoft's dominance. Why even license them a JVM implementation? It was clueless flailing around like this that cost them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Sadly
by Alfman on Wed 1st Jun 2016 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Sadly"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

segedunum,

I'm afraid these are just very poor excuses for not following through. They had everything they needed to break Microsoft's dominance. Why even license them a JVM implementation? It was clueless flailing around like this that cost them.


The problem for that argument is that they did follow through for many years. The unfortunate reality is that sometimes breaking into a market is even more costly than building the products for the market. With Web Start they had a good consumer-grade product, but without partnering up, they just didn't have access to consumers. I honestly believe one of the strong consumer brands like MS, apple, google could have deployed the very same technology into their platforms and it would have become very successful just because of their market leverage.


On the enterprise side, Sun was constantly pushing to advance unix. Oracle knew this, and instead of trying to compete with Sun they felt it was worth shelling out $8B to acquire Sun and their share of the enterprise market. Oracle's price would probably have been higher if Sun had kept everything proprietary and hadn't been as nice to the open source community. Clearly oracle isn't interested in FOSS.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sadly
by acobar on Tue 31st May 2016 00:12 UTC in reply to "Sadly"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

I can' t agree with you. The demise of Sun had nothing to do on how it charged for its products and all the companies you listed struggled on the market Sun was.

Cheap and powerful products of Intel/Microsoft competition killed the proprietary Unix.

Java may even only become popular because of how it was seen as a possible jump from PC to Unix workstations, or a way to start on cheap, at the time it became popular so, on this particular case, Sun was benefited by Java being open.

Now, about the tortuous line of thought of the lawyers that lost the case, that seems to me more aligned to their ego and self-defense of their acts than anything else.

Glad they lost but I am rooting for a reversal of API copyright, that is insane and the whole industry have not worked on this direction since forever. It is more a typical case of lawyers thinking they know best than the people that already work in the field, it is nothing less than ridiculous.

Reply Score: 3

They Came Out With This Crap Before
by segedunum on Mon 30th May 2016 23:53 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

A few years ago.

https://www.publicknowledge.org/news-blog/blogs/gpl-does-not-depend-...

They still either don't know what APIs actually are, or they're still trying to misrepresent them. The GPL does not depend on the copyrighting of APIs, and neither does any other [sensible] license. Why? Because the view out there in the world of APIs is not one shared with Oracle, and for good reasons. Stallman and the FSF have made their views known:

http://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0301.1/0362.html

It's just quite sad really that they're descending into this kind of desperate, total nonsense. Sadly (well, not really), the lawyers aren't going to get paid and Oracle has no way of making money from Sun now because it is still haemorrhaging cash.

There was a lot more riding on this than just clipping Android's wings, with Apple and Microsoft in the wings. Certainly for Oracle.

Edited 2016-05-31 00:04 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Fear mongering
by Poseidon on Tue 31st May 2016 00:56 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

This is just the lawyer fear-mongering due to not understanding the purpose of the GPL licensing and trying to appeal to emotion after the fact that they lost a huge chunk of money.

The thing is, if APIs are copyrightable, then that means it's litigation heaven for all lawyers in USA.

If they're not, that means business as usual. Making a product compatible with a development environment or a language library is the actual norm. Having to pay royalties to Microsoft or whomever for making products that are compatible to their language platform is insane (apart from the fact that you already would pay for certain certification, say, in WHQL signed drivers), and perhaps all lawyers would need to take a nice course on software development (or two) before they start making insidious claims.

Reply Score: 4

They sort of have a point
by pfgbsd on Tue 31st May 2016 02:49 UTC
pfgbsd
Member since:
2011-03-12

Well ... this was about the right to re-implement an existing API. It was not really about the GPL and TBH, no one cares about Oracle.

IANAL, but this does have an important side-effect in that it appears the argument of "anything using the linux APIs being a derivative work" just lost ground in the US.

The linux interfaces as such are not "protected" just because they are under the GPL, so the GPL and the LGPL suddenly are not that different anymore.

How will this affect the VMware suit? I have no idea, but people making money out of GPL conservacy will have a hard time from now on.

Reply Score: 1

RE: They sort of have a point
by kwan_e on Tue 31st May 2016 05:40 UTC in reply to "They sort of have a point"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

The linux interfaces as such are not "protected" just because they are under the GPL, so the GPL and the LGPL suddenly are not that different anymore.


That's not even wrong. Linux is protected because to use the interfaces to the kernel is a derivative work. Merely having the declarations to the Linux kernel means nothing. It's always been the use of the implementation of those interfaces that Linus wants to protect.

The difference between GPL and LGPL is linking. You can still violate the GPL if you reimplemented the headers from scratch and linked with the kernel. Conversely, you could copy the declarations in the header and compile to that but it won't matter if it doesn't link to the kernel.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: They sort of have a point
by pfgbsd on Tue 31st May 2016 19:49 UTC in reply to "RE: They sort of have a point"
pfgbsd Member since:
2011-03-12

"The linux interfaces as such are not "protected" just because they are under the GPL, so the GPL and the LGPL suddenly are not that different anymore.


That's not even wrong. Linux is protected because to use the interfaces to the kernel is a derivative work. Merely having the declarations to the Linux kernel means nothing. It's always been the use of the implementation of those interfaces that Linus wants to protect.
"

That's more or less the argument Oracle had with the Java interfaces and that they lost: Google didn't want copyleft in their code so they re-implemented the key Java APIs. VMware didn't want the GPL so they re-implemented parts of the linux API. What happens to copyleft if conservancy loses to VMware? (No I don't work for VMware, Oracle, or SFC and IANAL).

Reply Score: 1

RE: They sort of have a point
by anda_skoa on Tue 31st May 2016 21:28 UTC in reply to "They sort of have a point"
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

IANAL, but this does have an important side-effect in that it appears the argument of "anything using the linux APIs being a derivative work" just lost ground in the US.

Not really.
These are usually about people using the interface of Linux with Linux being the implementation.
If they wanted a different kernel implementing these interface nobody would care.


The linux interfaces as such are not "protected" just because they are under the GPL, so the GPL and the LGPL suddenly are not that different anymore.

Before Oracle got a court to rule that mere APIs are copyright protected, everyone assume they were not.
The difference in GPL vs LGPL was never about the interfaces but about the implementations about those interfaces.


How will this affect the VMware suit?

Why would a ruling of an US court have any impact on a suit before a German court?
Especially since the prior ruling had no impact either.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: They sort of have a point
by pfgbsd on Tue 31st May 2016 23:44 UTC in reply to "RE: They sort of have a point"
pfgbsd Member since:
2011-03-12


"
How will this affect the VMware suit?

Why would a ruling of an US court have any impact on a suit before a German court?
Especially since the prior ruling had no impact either.
"

It is impossible for the arguments not to be re-created on other courts.

But what happens in Germany has little importance; even if SFC were to win in Germany, which looks very unlikely, they have to sue in the US to get the real money and in the US this has impact.

Reply Score: 1

anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07


It is impossible for the arguments not to be re-created on other courts.

Sure, proceedings don't happen in legal vacuum, but the laws regarding these matters vary a lot between countries.

It is also a totally different matter, since the Hellwig vs VMWare case is about using code, not interfaces.


But what happens in Germany has little importance

Well, not for the Hellwig vs. VMWare case, assuming this is the one you are referring to.
Only what happens in that court in Germany matters for that case.


even if SFC were to win in Germany, which looks very unlikely, they have to sue in the US to get the real money and in the US this has impact.


I am not sure you are referring to the same case, but the Hellwig vs VMWare one is a GPL infringment suit between Christoph Hellwig and VMWare, in which VMWare is accused of using code written by Mr Hellwig in a way that violate the terms of the GPL the code is licensed under.

The goal of the case is license compliance which would automatically involve all other places besides Germany (unless VMWare would distribute different versions to Germany and the rest of the world).

But maybe you are thinking of a different suit where a competitor is suiting VMWare for damages?

Reply Score: 2

why
by nicubunu on Tue 31st May 2016 11:05 UTC
nicubunu
Member since:
2014-01-08

Why? It is pretty simple and straightforward: the Oracle's lawyer tries to confuse (and therefore silence) the hordes celebrating hers client defeat.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 31st May 2016 16:49 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

She's right but not because of this ruling. The other ruling that said headers are like book titles (when they're more like the font) spells our ultimate dooooooom

Reply Score: 2

Comment by mir.khosro
by mir.khosro on Tue 31st May 2016 17:09 UTC
mir.khosro
Member since:
2015-05-29

Oracle's claim sounds more disgusting when you consider the fact that Oracle themselves are the ones who copied RedHat Linux and got away with it.

Edited 2016-05-31 17:09 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Wait, What?
by FlyingJester on Tue 31st May 2016 21:30 UTC
FlyingJester
Member since:
2016-05-11

So someone describe how the creation of Java, the OpenJDK (which had a LOT of help from Sun), UltraSparc, Solaris (including ZFS and dtrace, a lot of pioneering IPC stuff like doors, and containers, all of which is only just now reaching Linux and is largely influenced by Sun's work) was Sun sitting around doing nothing.

That's the most productive amount of nothing I've ever seen. They were rivaling Linux for an OS, IBM for an architecture, and Microsoft for a language, all at once. Whether they were winning those battles is another story, but they were serious contenders in most cases.

Reply Score: 2