The jury in the Oracle vs. Google lawsuit seems to be deadlocked.They’ve been deliberating since Thursday. If they can’t decide on a winner than the trail will move onto Phase II.
Maybe it’s best for the software industry if that’s what happens. This isn’t just about if Google ripped off Sun/Oracle. What’s at stake in this first part of the trial is an issue of copyright. Can Oracle claim that a certain part of a software language — the applications programing interface — is copyrightable?
In an excellent analysis, IT World’s Brian Proffitt explains that APIs have never been considered copyrightable before. All they are is a list of ways that one software program can talk to another software program — not a particularly creative kind of thing. That is, a drawing of a telephone is subject to copyright. But a list of all the ways two people can talk to each other isn’t: telephone, Skype, texting, chatting in person. Oracle is arguing that Google copied 37 of its APIs, and it takes a lot of creativity to combine APIs in just that way, so they should be subject to copyright.
In other words, Oracle is looking to push the boundary of copyright law beyond its current state and maybe beyond reason.
Yesterday, a similar case in Europe was decided. The EU said that APIs are not subject to copyright.
The software industry is already in a major mess over patents. Patent trolls, patent bullies, millions spent buying defensive patents, lawsuits and more lawsuits. If APIs are copyrightable, that’s a whole new area where software companies can sue each other to bully their competition.
In the meantime, the lawyers are ramping up for round two. Oracle is also suing Google over patent infringement. Google plans to call to the stand 10 witnesses including Sun ex-CEO Jonathan Schwartz.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.