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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jburnett
Member since:
2012-03-29

Anyway, keep in mind that Sun released Java under GPL on May, 2007, under pressure in compliance with the specifications of the Java Community Process, and guess who was pressing to get that this way, yeh, Oracle. Really, they are going to have a hard time on court about that.

As far as I know, the only thing Google has to fear is the distribution of Java definitions with unauthorized changes (changing license or removing of copyright notices). And as big as it may end, it will never be close to what Oracle hoped for as would be hard to claim deprivation of property from something made public.

I am in agreement with you here. I think this is a very difficult case for Oracle to win on these grounds alone. I just object to the idea that programming languages are somehow fundamentally uncopyrightable material.


It is very disputed whether java is distinctive enough to qualify as a new language or a derivative work. One that unluckily will be decided on court. To be true, the only distinctive quality of java, when it was "released" to the world, was the promise to write once, run everywhere without the need to recompilation, what it never fulfill.

Your examples about what you consider your creation is also a source of dispute, one that we see every day in day out. If you doubt, just "google" for plagiarism. Modifying little blocks or add some does not constitute a new work. The problem is: who will be the arbiter?

It may be arguable whether Java is distinctive enough to qualify as a derivative work. It is probably a question of fact rather than law though.

I remember when Java came out, it certainly seemed different from everything else. It had the promise of write once run anywhere, but the syntax was also quite different. I had to port a lot of code from C/C++ to Java. It was, to my educated eyes, very different. It felt much like smalltalk, yet different from even that. Different enough to give me anger management issues while pounding 20oz bottles of cherry coke at 3am in the lab... those were good times... never had so much fun in my life.

Still, this is probably a moot point because I doubt the case will get past the open source issue.

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