Habitual programming is coming to its end

QArea Expert by QArea Expert on June 8, 2012

Habitual programming is coming to its end
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If Oracle will defend his claim in court, that copyright may be distributed to the API, this will worsen almost all aspects of the programming.

Oracle has always disliked the developers. There are the blood of programmers-founders in the veins of Microsoft and Google, and Oracle — it is a company, which primarily specializes in databases, which relentlessly pursues its business objectives. The company is not interested whether such a reckless approach seems good to software developers or any other community. Consumers, competitors and even their own clients are afraid of Oracle in all market segments in which the company is present, because Oracle has a value only on their own interests, and Oracle has been showing examples of aggression.

Thus, this is not surprisingly, that Oracle is now suing with Google in San Francisco, alleging that Google had infringed their patent while designing its operating system – Android. Of course, Google is not a fierce advocate of licensing and copyright, and often extends the boundaries of legally permissible in this area to gain access to the largest possible amount of data. Its battles with publishers about the copyright have become legendary and, in general, Google was forced to retreat. Its broad views on access to the data caused scandals with the Street View service, and GDrive.

So, the meeting in court between the two giants was virtually inevitable. In the beginning, the claim from Oracle and counterclaim from Google looked like one of those cases that are so interesting to watch from the side as the case of U.S. Department of Justice against Microsoft a decade ago. However, events in San Francisco began to turn dismal, when Oracle has put forward a sinister theory: Google violated the copyrights of Oracle on Java,within implementing a Java API for Android. Now a jury is deciding the issue – whether the API can be a copyright subject, and if Oracle will defend his point of view, it will lead to a highly controversial implications for the software industry.

In brief, if you decide that Oracle is right about the fact that copyrights in the headers of each Java source code file are exactly the API syntax, then Oracle may charge a fee and penalties from Google for the implementation of the API without the Oracle’s blessing of (more specifically, without a license). If this happens, a lot of products will suddenly find themselves in a strange legal situation. Because the copyright holders, which were the non-hazardous from the beginning, and now is authorized by the court may impose punitive actions. Alternative implementation of existing programming languages are at the most dangerous situation. They are: Jython, IronPython, and PyPy for Python; JRuby, IronRuby, and Rubinius for Ruby; Mono for C # and VB; maybe C + + for C, GCC for C, C + + and Objective-C and so on. And, of course, all browsers, which use JavaScript. It is possible that they already owe some royalties to intellectual Netscape property heirs.

Almost any programming language implementation, which has not yet got a lawsuit from copyright holders, will be under suspicion as long as the copyright owners will not declare permanent waiver of any threats against them. There is no reason to believe that copyright owners will agree with it. And we already know that Oracle has not agreed. And who said that the owners of Bell Labs are concerned about the negative consequences of a copyright claim on the programming languages more than a desire to receive tens if not hundreds, of millions of dollars of licensing fees.

The problem, of course, is not limited to programming languages. Is Linux in danger because of the playback of UNIX API? And a variety of ported libraries? Probably, yes. During the court the last two CEO sun reported on conflicting evidence. In short, Jonathan Schwartz has supported the views of Google (and his e-mail with congratulations on the establishment of Google’s Android has become an important part of the evidence), and Scott McNealy clearly showed that there was the ability of copyright to the API, API was subjected to be a copyright subject and implementation by third parties without a license, was prohibited. This is not surprising.

Such API role is in favor of the Oracle point of view that they are the property and are not intended for free use of unlicensed parties who wish to implement them. And the internal debate in Google, which shows that they knew that, they may need a license also supports the idea that the API — is a property. On this basis and on the basis that each document carefully bear the copyright, I, unfortunately, have to say that the jury may give us the bad news when they return to the discussion. Of course, I really hope that I’m wrong.

However, there is a ray of hope: a jury can confirm that the API is a subject for copyright, but the use of the syntax of signatures of functions is legal. This will keep the right to an alternative API implementation for everybody without the risk of copyright infringement. And that would be reasonable.

Let’s hope that this time you will not need so many lawsuits to permanently prove that the API can be freely copied.