Thursday, 2 June 2016

Google V Oracle: The Aftermath

Should telling both sides of the story mean letting inaccuracies slide?

Oracle lost its battle with Google to own APIs in a way 9th Circuit judge Barry Silverman would approve of

Once the [item] is fixed, it is tangible property (emphasis is mine) belonging to the copyright holder, and no one else has the right to take even a little of it without permission."

which is just as well; APIs are the bridges that join programs together. They define the way that computer programs communicate with each other, and therefore should emphatically NOT be copyrighted. Try telling that to the Federal Circuit court, which bought into the argument that if it's fixed, it's tangible property, so get a licence or do not sample. Allowing that mentality to fester would make it impossible for me to function as a blogger reporting on IPR abuse: I'd have to contact each and every source publication and ask for permission to quote from and link to their stories. If the maximalists get their way that is exactly what will happen. The trouble with maximalists is that when they're not lying they're being economical with the truth; they spent much of the trial ignoring the open source, free-to-use status of Java that included the 37 APIs that Oracle went to court over. Since the copyrightability of APIs couldn't be discussed, the copyright status couldn't be discussed (as far as I know), so the only way to return a fair verdict was to declare Google's usage of the Java APIs to be fair use. It's a mess, but that's what happens when you treat copyright like property.

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