CyberTech Rambler

May 23, 2012

Google won decisively over Oracle

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:50 pm

News just in: Google won decisively in the Oracle vs Google lawsuit. It is great day for technology.

According to Groklaw, the special verdict form for the patent phase of the trial is one sided to Google’s favour. That surprise me a bit, I thought Oracle should be able to make at least one small thing stick.

The other surprise for me is from Levine’s tweet: Jury believe Google’s use of Java in Android is creative transformation. It is therefore, protected under fair use. I was too preoccupied about API cannot be copyrighted that I forgotten to explore this avenue. Kudos to Google lawyers for planting this in the jury’s mind.

What did Oracle wins? Some money from the infringement verdict for a few lines of codes. Even the judge did not think it is going to amount to much. There is another infringement which the judge grant Oracle as he reversed the jury decision but that is probably not going to amount to much. That’s why Oracle agree not to go to the third phase where the jury decides on the amount of damage to grant Oracle.

The first remaining uncertainty is whether API is copyrightable. That is still up in the air as we await the judge’s decision. The second is what had been discussed in the previous paragraph, i.e. fair use question on the documentation. It appears that the opinion is strongly in favour of Google (9-3). It means Oracle probably do not stand a chance of getting a favourable results if the question goes to a new jury.

Oracle’s big money dream just went up in smoke, unless of course, a higher court reverse the judgement. It will still get something. Will it appeal? Likely.

Will Google settle? It is not in Google’s character to settle lawsuit. They tend to take it to a bitter end. The verdict did nothing that will encourage Google to  go down that line.

The show is not over yet, but all the epic scenes in the show had. We still wait for Judge Alsup to tidy up last bit of the case: is API copyrightable. Then it is off to the Appellate Court we go.

A big thank you to everyone at Groklaw for covering the case. Once again, you all excelled beyond believe!


May 22, 2012

May be the fake parts for DoD is deliberate …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:23 pm

It is interesting to see that the DoD choose to blame fake Chinese part on bad practices in China, not deliberate sabotage by Chinese Intelligence.

Frankly, if I were China, sabotaging DoD’s asset  this way does not worry me at all. Even assuming China intentionally sabotage DoD, the United State has no choice but to put on a smile and grit their teeth, as they did it to others. I am not talking about Cold War with Russia, but as recent as 1990s in Iraq.

The only recourse they have is what they did: Highlight the fake part and hope the bad publicity push China into doing something.

May 21, 2012

Legitimizing DVD decryption software (at least temporarily)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:40 pm

The Fed is said to be considering allowing DVD encryption to be bypassed temporarily. While I can a lot of interested parties on both sides fighting their corner, I believe the biggest impact will be on DVD decryption software. If they approve this, it means at least for a while, they will become legal in the United States. That is significant because it allows hassle-free distribution of the software, particularly open-sourced one. For the latter, once the genie is out of the bottle ….

Since the Fed is also considering making jailbreaking of game console, the hacker that signed a “do not hack” agreement with Sony thinks he may be able to workaround that agreement and start to play with jailbreaking on (limited) Sony products again. Although I am not privy to his agreement with Sony, the fact that I know he had good lawyers to fight his corner and he is willing to go on the record to say he might be able to do it if the Fed agree to the jailbreak, it is possible. However, my view is the Fed is unlikely to permit this: There is no potential monopoly concerns here and the competition is as healthy as it could get if we take into account that only two giants (Sony and Microsoft) in the game. Downstream developers actually benefit  from the fact that there are only a few major players in the arena. I also cannot see how the public interest can be better served by permitting the jailbreak on balance of probability, let alone the more stringent criteria the Feds require for granting the exemption. Thus, I say to him: Dream on.

Why China’s approval of Google purchase of Motorola Mobility becomes headline news

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:19 pm

For global companies, and that includes Microsoft, Rio Tinto, JP Morgan and the likes, acquiring another company will raise antitrust concerns everywhere. Thus, they will have to do their rounds at antitrust authorities globally. That is nothing new. Any approval of that kind is a bonafide news item, but as a matter of rule will only occupy  small tiny column in their the business/financial pages, mainly for the benefit of investors. The exception to this is of course US and EU approval. It is not that mainstream media choose to ignore them, but the power of other authorities are limited and cannot make or break the deal.

Thus, while it is not a surprise to see AFP newswire flash the news of China’s approval of Google purchase of Motorola Mobility,  it is interesting to see that main stream media, such as the BBC, choose to invest money and time to write up a story. That is partly a testament to the global importance of mobile technology, but also reflects the rise of China as an important global market.

What news are we going to see next? India approving the deal? Brazil approving the deal?  I think that will reflects both countries rightful place in international commerce.

May 15, 2012

The law of unintended consequences …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:13 am

The internet is buzzing with news that a company call “Pirate Pay” claims to have Microsoft, Sony and Walt Disney support in one form or another for a technology that can stop piracy on BitTorrrent.

Whatever little we know about the actual technology, it sounds like spoofing IPs and flooding the network with fake information/traffic. It is an attack on the network. Sounds to me like fighting fire with fire. Not exactly the best technique ever because it is the good guys crossing over to the other side to fight the bad guys.

Then, there is the possibility that the technique targeted the wrong torrent, i.e., legitimate torrent from a company. Given that they are prepare to cross over to the other side to fight their corner, my prediction is if you are a small company whose legitimate torrent got caught in their dragnet, then they are going to ignore you. Medium size company? They are going drown you in legal cost. Big company? They pay you damages to make you go away. They probably bought insurance just for this purpose.

The good news is, eventually, and that would be sooner rather than later, they antagonized a big company and no amount of money they can afford to pay will make the lawsuit go away. This probably will spell the doom of the technology. That’s the cost of good guys turn bad by using bad guys techniques to fight bad guys.

Moral of the story: It never pays to use bad guys technique, even if you are the good guys.

May 9, 2012

Jury says Google infringed Oracle copyright, but Google looks to be more cheerful than Oracle. Why?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 9:05 pm

Phase 1 (Copyrights) of Oracle Vs Google draw to a close. The headline news is of course Google is found to had infringed on Oracle’s copyrights.

The first thing I noticed about the jury verdict is mainstream (non-tech) media, BBC included, simply mention the jury verdict without much fanfare, unlike when the trial started where they devoted precious broadcast time to interviews etc. That was my first sign that the jury verdict is dull and unexciting. Nothing that will shattered the ground. Believe me, if Oracle had won big, i.e., API is copyrightable or Oracle won big sum of money, we will have tech experts all over the world chipping in their opinion on air.

After reading and digesting the jury’s  verdict, it does not sounds as bad as it is for Google. The point that strike at the heart of things for me is that the API Documentation was ruled  to be non-infringing but the API is. The former says to me that the jury understands the difference between idea and presentation of the idea. The former is not protected by copyright, but the latter do.  That is because the API text that they had to examine to decide whether it is protected by copyright is of the type ‘A dog bit me’ vs ‘I was bitten by a dog’ because there are limited ways to convey the message that I had the misfortune of encountering a dog. I am of course speculating, but if they were more skilled in the art of programming, they will find that API is  the same thing, i.e., there are extremely limited ways, i.e. one,  to express yourself.

The other important point for me is they uphold the common sense interpretation of SUN’s words when it comes to the use of Java Language by finding Google has reasons to believe that it do not need a license from SUN to use the API. Once more we see juries holds corporation and to their words, even after they try to twist their own words.

The hilarious point is while Google was found to be infringing on the 9 lines it copied verbatim, Oracle has no chance of collecting any money. The reason? Their experts rated the monetary value of those lines at zero! Even though the multiples of zero is zero, the judge still cannot allow Oracle to claim more than “statutory damage”, partly to hold Oracle to their words and while the ultimate value here is zero, it might not be zero elsewhere.

Both parties, after hearing the verdict, is reported to react differently as expected. However, without analyzing the verdict, one might find it surprising that it is all smile on Google’s table, but all gloom at Oracle’s. Well, they were all smarter, way smarter than me.

One thing I will say about Google’s lawyer: For the money Google paid them, and they while they are good at practicing law in general, I cannot help but feel that they falls into one blunder after another. Lindholm’s emails is one and there are other minor blunders as well. On the Jury’s verdict, they failed to argue their case: (1) Google infringed on API (as API is assumed to be copyrightable) but they did not convince the jury on fair use, and (2) Oracles give reason to Google to believe it can use Java’s API _but_ was wrong no reasonable to assume it does not need a license. Those are big, big blunders. Arguably one pay lawyers’ big buck to secure a better change of winning on those two grounds. Had Google’s case not being as strong as it is I wonder whether Google had chosen the wrong set of lawyers.

Google’s best hope now is for the judge to find that API is not copyrightable. The judge is taking advise from wherever he can. I am a bit surprised to see him asking for the parties to submit what they think about the recent European Court decision that API is not copyrightable the very next day that decision was made available. I bet Oracle would not had welcomed the decision and Google is giggling all over it. Just one more bad luck for Oracle. The card is actually stacked against Oracle and I am sure they know it. However, US is a different jurisdiction from Europe, so anything can still happen.

May 3, 2012

Oracle Vs Google : Jury’s questions not pointing to Google’s favour

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:19 pm

Well, the jury in Oracle Vs Google is definitely taking their time in deliberation. Given that a lot of (sub) questions would not have answered if they just decide that Google had not infringed, it is not looking good for that company. Moreover, the questions that they are asking are increasingly pointing to the fact that they had decided infringement did occur and is in the process of deciding whether it is fair use or not.

Not a development that I would had liked. I think Google’s best hope is that Judge Alsup rule from the bench that the API is not copyrightable. That would pull the rug out of the whole jury verdict. While I understand the judge, for judicial expediency reason, choose to send the jury out while he contemplate the question of whether API is copyrightable, if I were on the jury and he rules that API is not copyrightable, I would wonder why I spend all those time in the deliberation.

May 2, 2012

Google score against Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:53 pm

On the front of patent warfare between Android and Microsoft, Motorola Mobility is Google’s pawn in the fight, even though Google had not technically bought Motorola Mobility.

Both companies will win and lose battles in this fight. Recent Microsoft purchase of AOL patents suggest that Microsoft is feeling a bit more vulnerable as it finally (and unexpectedly) has to take on Google.

The current battle is at Germany. That already caused Microsoft to take the defensive move of relocating some of its European operation to Netherlands to reduce disruption to its services. That battle produce a biggest headline to date: XBox and Windows 7 banned in Germany.

It’s the sound bites that will have the biggest bang. I am not expect to see poor German customers not being able to get their hands on XBox and Windows 7 as a result of this ruling. On the overall big picture, Germany, while is a big market for Microsoft, is not a market that will tank the mammoth if a ban was enforced.

Now on to the next battle …

Apple Security like Microsoft in 2002???

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:44 pm

Kaspersky Lab says that “Apple Security like Microsoft in 2002”. I say after giving them a PR boosting, it’s fair.

Regardless of actual reason, I say it is fair because Apple have not yet had to deal with a significant number of malwares and as such it is not gear up to deal with major security threat. While it is not the same as the “Don’t know, don’t care” attitude at Microsoft in the early 2000, the effect is the same:  Users are at risk and the company is not geared up to handle a big security event. Throw in the fact that Macs is now an increasingly interesting target for rogues, we Mac users have to be ready for the inevitable!

May 1, 2012

Oracle vs Google Lawsuit : Oracle has no legs to stand on

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:07 am

The jury is out for the copyright phase of the trial. Having diligently followed Groklaw’s reporting of the case, I formed the opinion that Oracle claims has no merit.

You say of course I will say so, since I am in the business of writing software. You say I am biased. Perhaps, although I tried very hard not to be. You say I have more to lose if Oracle wins its argument on  API being copyrightable. I say it is a double-edged sword but yes, I have more to lose if API is copyrightable. However, I will say that every ounce of my training in the field, common sense, and a lot of lawsuit before this one, says that Oracle is on a wing and prayer.

Of course a jury might not see that. Regardless of what they decides, I respect their decision. They are told to assume that API are copyrightable, as the Judge will decide on whether API are copyrightable. Even assuming API is copyrightable, for a person trained in writing programs, we are talking about the equivalent of individual words and Grammar in verbal and written language. You have to use them and therefore not copyrightable. While it does not mean because everyone do it it must be correct and legal, if you look at every computer language you see copying. If API are copyrightable, Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie’s estate and Bjarne Stroustrup should sue the hell out of Oracle, as they rightly reserve the riches API copyrights afford them.

Now, even if the jury goes against me, Judge Alsup might rule that API, as claimed by Oracle, is not copyrightable. In essence, it looks like the card is stack against Oracle, in the sense that the burden of proof lies on it. With this, and the flimsy theory that Oracle is putting on for this trial, if Oracle wins, it is a GIGANTIC win.

If Google lose it will definitely be appealed. Google has too much to lose. Will Oracle appeal if it lose? Less likely than Google, but they had shown that one of their purpose is to shake down the money tree call Android. They have the deep pocket. Google might just capitulate just for the problem to go away. Will Google settle? Its not in Google’s blood, but I won’t say that it is not in their DNA. Sometimes I can see that stuffing bully with money might be the least worst alternative.

With trials, only attorneys know the full story. Until both sides presented their case, you just simply do not have the full picture. Even now, we won’t have the true picture. What we have is a pick behind the curtain. However, significantly, it is the picture that opposing side thinks is relevant for us to see. As such, I have not discounted the fact that we might have a “Perry Mason” moment from Oracle. We almost got one, but that is from Google when it challenged Oracle’s copyright registration. That’s big. However, the conversation between the judge and attorney put things in perspective. Still big, but probably not sufficient to tank Oracle. However, at the minimum it is giving Google the ammo to annoy Oracle with, as demonstrated in Google’s (rightful) insistence that Oracle have to show more proof of copyright registration.

I hope Oracle will not prevail. It is not  good for the field if it does. Fingers crossed.


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