Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Apr 2012 09:40 UTC
Legal "Oracle's case against Google has evolved primarily into a copyright infringement suit over the past several months, and with the full trial scheduled to begin this coming Monday, the court is making an effort to get down to the nuts and bolts of copyright law. The judge issued an order last week requiring that both Google and Oracle provide their respective positions on a fundamental issue in the case: 'Each side shall take a firm yes or no position on whether computer programming languages are copyrightable'." Seems like an easy enough answer to me, especially since Oracle's example doesn't hold up at all - Oracle points to Klingon's custom glyphs to illustrate that a language can fall under copyright, but unlike Klingon, a programming language uses standard glyphs we all use every day. Arguing you can copyright that is borderline psychotic, and opens up a whole can of worms.
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Programming in Klingon
by jburnett on Fri 13th Apr 2012 14:00 UTC
jburnett
Member since:
2012-03-29

I have not read either brief, so I'm not sure exactly what is being argued. My facts could be wrong as they are taken from the article. Heh, I'm not even certain if it is Oracle or the article that makes the Klingon argument.

By the way, does Oracle have a language programmed in Klingon?

Joking aside, programming languages are not native languages. They do not spring up from a collective effort. It takes somebody, or a team of somebodies, a long time to author the grammar that defines a language. That grammar is a set, defined written thing, just like a book or article. This sounds like it could be copyrighted and entitled to copyright protection.

Further, even if the base grammar isn't copyrightable, what about all those standard libraries that come with the language by default. A lot of work went into those, they are as written as any piece of software or paper I have ever written. If you cannot copyright your libraries, then how can you copyright your third-party libraries, or even your final application.

Oracle argues that Google copies quite a few of the base libraries too. It seems like Google is arguing that the standard default libraries are not copyrightable either. Honestly, Google seems to have the weaker argument.

Rather than see this as an evil that must be fought, just don't use products from the company that treats its customers badly. Though I'm not certain who that is in this case.

Java was never as open as a programming language should be. Perhaps we should just use this as a Stallman-esque lesson in the virtue of only using actual open sources.

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