Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 31st May 2012 21:41 UTC
Legal And thus, it ends. Despite a never-ending stream of doom and gloom from Oracle/Microsoft-funded 'pundits' regarding Google and Android (six hundred billion trillion gazillion eurodollars in damages!!1!), judge Alsup has just squashed all of Oracle's chances with a ruling that is good news for those of us who truly care about this wonderful industry: APIs are not copyrightable. Alsup: "To accept Oracle's claim would be to allow anyone to copyright one version of code to carry out a system of commands and thereby bar all others from writing their own different versions to carry out all or part of the same commands. No holding has ever endorsed such a sweeping proposition." Supreme Court, Ellison?
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RE[2]: Overstating the case
by vaette on Fri 1st Jun 2012 09:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Overstating the case"
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

Not really the case though, despite the quote that Thom picked for the blurb here. Alsup is very clear that Google is in the clear due to their use of the APIs being limited (37 classes out of hundreds) and the relatively low complexity of the classes concerned. Implicit (though not in a legal sense of course) in the decision is that very broad copying of APIs, or copying of APIs that are more complex and specific to a task, is not really allowed.

It is an interesting question for the future where the line is drawn. I find Alsups conclusions here to be very reasonable (this case was pretty limited), but I also agree that there are limits. Hugely complex software that is mostly concerned with defining complex interfaces does need a bit of protection, and this includes GPL software needing it to control commercial rip-offs. For example it seems reasonable that no one should be able to write a non-GPL gcc back-end, since the interface in question, GIMPLE, is monstrously complex and very tied to the functionality of gcc (that is, a lot of gcc cleverness is embodied in the interface itself).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Overstating the case
by kwan_e on Fri 1st Jun 2012 09:47 in reply to "RE[2]: Overstating the case"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

For example it seems reasonable that no one should be able to write a non-GPL gcc back-end, since the interface in question, GIMPLE, is monstrously complex and very tied to the functionality of gcc (that is, a lot of gcc cleverness is embodied in the interface itself).


No, that's not reasonable at all.

The only reason why no-one should be able to write a non-GPL gcc back-end is due to the fact that GCC is under GPL. That's the only reason.

There should be no sane reason why I, writing a compiler toolkit, could not have the same API as the GCC compiler, provided I didn't copy the actual files from a GCC source tree.

Something being complex and difficult is not a good reason for it to be legally protected.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Overstating the case
by vaette on Fri 1st Jun 2012 10:43 in reply to "RE[3]: Overstating the case"
vaette Member since:
2008-08-09

It would be a clear rip-off of very hard work in gcc to rip off GIMPLE. I think you are underestimating how much is involved in that stage of gcc, and would possibly argue that it doesn't fit your idea of what an "API" is, but it is still just interface code. Making a legal distinction of what is interface and what is implementation is hopeless.

I think we might have to agree to disagree when it comes to what we want here, but personally I am very much on the side where sufficient innovation expressed in an interface should get protection.

Reply Parent Score: 2