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?