Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 7th May 2012 20:09 UTC
Legal There's some movement in the Oracle-Google lawsuit today, but it's rather difficult to determine just what kind of movement. The jury was told by the judge Alsup to assume APIs are copyrightable - something Alsup still has to determine later during trial - and with that in mind, the judge ruled Google violated Oracle's copyright on Java. However, the jury did not come to an agreement on a rather crucial question: whether or not it was fair use. All in all, a rather meaningless verdict at this point, since it's incomplete. Also, what kind of nonsense is it for a judge to tell a jury to assume something is illegal? Am I the only one who thinks that's just complete insanity?
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Sigh. Thom.
by AdamW on Mon 7th May 2012 20:19 UTC
AdamW
Member since:
2005-07-06

"Also, what kind of nonsense is it for a judge to tell a jury to assume something is illegal? Am I the only one who thinks that's just complete insanity?"

Thom...you really should try and get some vague kind of information before mouthing off on your blog, I'm sorry, serious news site.

It's not nonsense, it's how many legal systems work.

'Whether the APIs are copyrightable' is a question of law. Questions of law are for the judge, not the jury, to decide. Therefore the judge didn't ask the jury that; this is quite correct. 'Whether, if the APIs are copyrightable, Google infringed that copyright' is a question of fact. Questions of fact, not questions of law, are what juries decide, in the American system (and most jury systems).

So the judge asked the jury to answer the question of fact, and will himself answer the question of law. That's exactly how the system is supposed to work. It's not insane at all.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Sigh. Thom.
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 7th May 2012 20:32 in reply to "Sigh. Thom."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I find a jury system insane enough even without nonsense like this, but alas. I'm glad we don't have this medieval nonsense in this country.

But that doesn't negate the fact that the judge asked the jury to render a verdict on something we don't even know is illegal in the first place. For someone from a country without jury trial and based entirely on statutory law, this IS pure insanity.

Look, don't take it out on me we don't report on every Fedora fart anymore (I don't know what else could have crawled up your butt recently).

Edited 2012-05-07 20:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

v RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by bowkota on Mon 7th May 2012 20:58 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 7th May 2012 21:11 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Thinking about this... I know exactly why this is so idiotic.

If not even a judge knows if APIs are copyrightable or not, how should Google have known?

A rather key element of a proper judicial system is that you cannot be found guilty of something that was not illegal at the time you did that something. E.g., if the legal limit is 80kph and I drive 80kph on Monday, and the limit is lowered on Tuesday to 70kph, I cannot be fined for my "speeding" the day before.

This is the same. Apparently, nobody knows if APIs can be copyrightable. So, how could Google have known?

To me, from the perspective of my legal system, this is pure insanity, because it creates a hell of a lot of uncertainty for civilians and companies alike.

Edited 2012-05-07 21:12 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 15

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by tanishaj on Tue 8th May 2012 01:26 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
tanishaj Member since:
2010-12-22

I find a jury system insane enough even without nonsense like this, but alas. I'm glad we don't have this medieval nonsense in this country.


I do not live in the US but Thom's reaction is mostly one of ignorance here.

1) The judge will avoid creating new law unless he has to
2) The judge will only decide if APIs can be copyrighted if Google is found to have done that
3) The jury is assumed to be impartial, unbiased, and to be a source of common sense
4) The jury will decide if Google has wrongfully copied the API
5) In order to get a ruling from the jury, the judge has to tell them to assume it is illegal
6) The judge is assumed to be capable of forming an informed legal opinion on whether or not an activity is illegal
7) If Google is found to have infringed, the judge will decide if what they did was illegal
8) Instead of relying on the (possibly biased) decision of one man (the judge) when assessing guilt the US relies on the consensus of twelve people (selected to be unbiased)
9) When deciding complex legal technicalities, the US relies on the judgement of one highly educated and experienced person (the judge) instead of the purposely uneducated opinions of a group (the jury)
10) The whole thing is subject to appeal

It is cumbersome, but it actually makes a fair bit of sense to me.

Juries decide "did" or "did not".
Judges decide "legal" or "illegal"

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by AdamW on Tue 8th May 2012 07:14 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

Heh. Try to make out I have some kind of agenda. Cute, but not going to wash. Sorry, try a different number.

It's a simple matter of efficiency. The jury has to decide one thing. The judge has to decide another thing. Should they a) try to get both things decided as soon as possible or b) do one and then the other, even if it's perfectly possible to do both at once? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't _really_ prefer b). Trials take long enough already. Hell, it's just parallellization. (edit: the point that the judge didn't want to create 'new law' by ruling on whether APIs are copyrightable unless he actually _had_ to is also an important one - probably more important).

Trials are messy affairs where things like this happen all the time. If the media didn't jump on intermediate hearings and determinations like they were the Word of God, less of everyone's time would be wasted.

edit: as far as 'no-one's sure if it's illegal' goes, well, that happens under just about any code, really. It's incredibly difficult to write a law that requires absolutely no kind of interpretation. "Thou shalt not kill" - fine - but what about self-defence? What if you're insane? What if you didn't really mean to? Some kinds of interpretation are done by having the legislators traipse back in and refine the law, sure, but some are done by judges. In this case, the question of whether APIs constitute copyrightable material as defined in the U.S. copyright law is a question of interpretation of the relevant law, and it's a judge's job to perform that interpretation.

Edited 2012-05-08 07:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by Athlander on Tue 8th May 2012 07:46 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
Athlander Member since:
2008-03-10

I find a jury system insane enough even without nonsense like this, but alas. I'm glad we don't have this medieval nonsense in this country.


Are you glad you have the inherently flawed Dutch system? Just wondering.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by AdamW on Tue 8th May 2012 15:33 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

Put separately - what's crawled up my butt lately is simply the declining quality of the site. Sorry, but that's the truth. I guess instead of snarking I should just take it out of my RSS feed, really. I don't recall the last time I found out something interesting from OS News.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Sigh. Thom.
by Doc Pain on Mon 7th May 2012 21:36 in reply to "Sigh. Thom."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

So the judge asked the jury to answer the question of fact, and will himself answer the question of law. That's exactly how the system is supposed to work. It's not insane at all.


I don't think you're correct with this conclusion. Every programmer knows "if - then - else" statements, conditionals. They consist of a condition and a conclusion. In this particular case (if I understood it correctly!), the condition is an assumption, a possibility, a definition, or a theory. There is no evidence (yet) that this condition is true.

"If the moon consists of green cheese, would Google have infringed that copyright?"

The conclusion (as we don't know if the condition is true or not) may be even useless. See the rules for implications, which are the logical equivalent of a conditional for "condition x conclusion = truth of statement":

true x true = true
true x false = false
false x true = true
false x false = true

How does logic match in the field of law? Can argumenting on a "what if" basis be applied here? How does discussing possibilities (and evaluating them by the jury, with the judge setting up the preconditions) affect the legal process?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by looncraz on Tue 8th May 2012 00:28 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

Not familiar with out-of-order execution and branch prediction are we?

It works something like this:

The code:

law = Law(API | COPYRIGHTABLE);

if (law.IsIllegal(google->DoocumentedUseCase()))
jury->RenderVerdict();


We know that the if statement can only have two possible outcomes: true or false. Further, we know that if the answer if false, the jury->RenderVerdict() is unneeded.

We find no basis in which we should assume false, so we assume true until we can calculate law.IsIllegal()'s return value and so we throw jury->RenderVerdict() into the pipeline. Now, should we get around to a false result from law.IsIllegal() we can cancel the execution of jury->RenderVerdict() and also completely free all related branches and predictions. Now, if jury->RenderVerdict() returns before we have completed law.IsIllegal(), we need only to cache the result and further execution in regards to jury can occur.

This makes things much faster.

Hope that makes sense...

--The loon

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by Richard Dale on Tue 8th May 2012 12:36 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

"So the judge asked the jury to answer the question of fact, and will himself answer the question of law. That's exactly how the system is supposed to work. It's not insane at all.


I don't think you're correct with this conclusion. Every programmer knows "if - then - else" statements, conditionals. They consist of a condition and a conclusion. In this particular case (if I understood it correctly!), the condition is an assumption, a possibility, a definition, or a theory. There is no evidence (yet) that this condition is true.

"If the moon consists of green cheese, would Google have infringed that copyright?"

The conclusion (as we don't know if the condition is true or not) may be even useless. See the rules for implications, which are the logical equivalent of a conditional for "condition x conclusion = truth of statement":

true x true = true
true x false = false
false x true = true
false x false = true

How does logic match in the field of law? Can argumenting on a "what if" basis be applied here? How does discussing possibilities (and evaluating them by the jury, with the judge setting up the preconditions) affect the legal process?
"

I hope you've got a license to use predicate logic from Mr Boole - it looks like you might be infringing to me. Can't you use something more original the 'true' and 'false'?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Sigh. Thom.
by smashIt on Tue 8th May 2012 14:12 in reply to "RE: Sigh. Thom."
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

true x true = true
true x false = false
false x true = true
false x false = true


shouldn't it be

true x true = true
true x false = false
false x true = false
false x false = true

?

Reply Parent Score: 1