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Re^2: Copyright on languages

by moritz (Cardinal)
on May 03, 2012 at 07:44 UTC ( #968663=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Copyright on languages
in thread Copyright on languages

I always got the impression Java the language was copyrighted, based on the hoops I had to jump through to get a copy to install.

You never, ever install Java the language on your computer, just like you can't install English the language on your computer.

What you install in the case of Java is the runtime environment (virtual machine and bytecode for the class libraries) and maybe the SDK (compiler, debugger, maybe IDE). Languages only exist in people's minds.

That is a very important distinction. Software is copyrightable, but languages aren't.

Now Oracle tries to lump APIs (which are abstract things and also exist purely in the mind) into the same category as software, and claims that Google infringes their copyright by reimplementing some of the Java core APIs.

(Oracle also has some other claims, like that Google copied 9 (!) lines of code, claims that Google copied documentation, and two patent violations. But those claims are all pretty minor, and won't affect the software world as a large nearly as much as the API copyright claims).

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Re^3: Copyright on languages
by Anonymous Monk on May 03, 2012 at 09:00 UTC

    Lets say Google Search algorithm was broken down and somebody writes API's callable to crawl, index and search information.

    Will Google still claim that API's are not copyrightable and its perfectly ok for some one to run a Google search engine clone?

    Anybody would object to a API clone, if that API is the very revenue source of their business.

      Lets say Google Search algorithm was broken down and somebody writes API's callable to crawl, index and search information.

      Note thare are lots of APIs already for crawling the web, in fact there are a few on CPAN. There are also APIs for indexing and search (I quite like Lucy).

      Will Google still claim that API's are not copyrightable and its perfectly ok for some one to run a Google search engine clone?

      You do realize that there are other search engines out there, and the google does not sue them? Try duckduckgo for example. Or bing. Or yandex (if you happen to like Russian sites), or Baidu (if you happen to like Chinese sites).

      If somebody wrote a clone of google search in the sense of using Google's logo on their page, they would infringe trademarks, not copyright on an API.

      I think Google also has a patent on their PageRank algorithm, but the API and the ranking algorithm underneath are completely separated.

      Anybody would object to a API clone, if that API is the very revenue source of their business.

      I don't know a single company that sells API licenses at the core of their business.

      Google sells ads on search result pages. Oracle sells software, trademark licenses (so that others can call their java implementations "Java"tm). Sun did too. None of them make money from APIs.

        Actually I was talking of something like a Youtube API or something similar. API's do matter a lot. Imagine a company like Facebook, I would reckon API's are crucial to many aspects of their business.

        My point is if the API becomes crucial to your business than the company begins to perceive it as their cash cow. If my company looks at Java as a business I would be equally scared watching clones spring up here and there.

        Java today is Intellisense + Eclipse + API. That is all that remains of Java. By the way, I don't agree with Oracle either. I am just trying to think from their perspective. How can they justify investments in Java if there are no clear profits? After all the purpose of business is to make profits. The only other option I see is making Java a paid platform. That is not great for computing either.

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