The jury has turned in a partial verdict in Oracle v. Google, but was it really qualified to do so?

The jury has returned its partial verdict for the first (and perhaps most important) phase of the Oracle v. Google trial: The 12 jurors found Google had infringed on Oracle’s copyrights by its use of structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of the 37 Java APIs used in Java.

For weeks now, the courtroom has echoed with arguments and testimony to determine one key principle: Are programming languages copyrightable, or aren’t they? And with this decision, twelve of our peers have declared that at least to some extent, they are.

The partial verdict was accepted by Judge William Alsup, who said last week in court, “I’m going to receive a partial verdict. I’m not going to let this work go to waste.”

Google uses the Java programming language in its Android mobile operating system. Oracle controls and owns Java, and it’s claiming that Google’s particular use of the language violates Oracle’s copyrights and patents.

Google has been arguing that no programming language, especially an open-source one (as Java is), can be copyrighted.

The first phase of this landmark trial was to settle this debate once and for all. However, based on what this reporter knows, both as a student of Java and as a firsthand observer in the courtroom, no one is more ill-equipped to make this decision than Judge William Alsup and the jury of San Franciscans selected for this trial.

As the American justice system dictates, the jury was selected by carefully avoiding anyone with expertise in the field. Engineers from multiple large Silicon Valley companies were turned away. The final jury members selected included a plumber, a nurse, a retired photographer, a store designer for Gap, a city bus driver, and a postal worker — in other words, folks with as little hope of understanding the deeply technical language and concepts they were about to encounter as I would have of understanding the intricacies of plumbing or the city’s public transit system.

First, Android founder Andy Rubin told the court that he had been under the impression that some of the Java APIs were copyrighted and that Google would need a license from then-Java-owner Sun to use them. Next, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the court that he thought Google didn’t need anyone’s permission to use those APIs and other parts of the Java language… mostly.  Read More


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Posted on May 8, 2012, in #business news, #social media, #technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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