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You are here: Home FSF News FSF statement on jury's partial verdict in Oracle v Google

FSF statement on jury's partial verdict in Oracle v Google

by Joshua Gay Contributions Published on May 09, 2012 04:28 PM
Were it grounded in reality, Oracle's claim that copyright law gives them proprietary control over any software that uses a particular functional API would be terrible for free software and programmers everywhere.

On Monday, May 7th, the jury in Oracle v Google reached a partial verdict, which was based on instructions from Judge Alsup to assume that the structure, sequence, and arrangement of Oracle's Java APIs are subject to copyright. Whether or not Oracle can actually claim copyright on the Java API will be determined by Judge Alsup at a later date.

The following statement is attributed to John Sullivan, executive director of the Free Software Foundation:

Were it grounded in reality, Oracle's claim that copyright law gives them proprietary control over any software that uses a particular functional API would be terrible for free software and programmers everywhere. It is an unethical and greedy interpretation created with the express purpose of subjugating as many computer users as possible, and is particularly bad in this context because it comes at a time when the sun has barely set on the free software community's celebration of Java as a language newly suitable for use in the free world. Fortunately, the claim is not yet reality, and we hope Judge Alsup will keep it that way.

The FSF first responded to Oracle v Google in September 2010, but at the time we focused more on the patent aspect of the case since details about Oracle's copyright infringement claims had not yet been published.

For more information on Monday's ruling, we recommend Groklaw's coverage, as well as EFF lawyer Julie Samuels's article on why APIs should not be subject to copyright.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some, especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as "open source," which cites only practical goals such as making software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html.

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