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.