EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.11.14

Analysis of Text From the CAFC Reveals Lack of Technical Comprehension

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Oracle at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers deciding on technical issues

CAFC

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) shows us yet again that it does not understand technology and its latest ruling is harmful to the technical community

YESTERDAY we wrote about the menacing CAFC ruling, which basically throws a lot of FOSS under the rug (by extension) for it alleges that APIs are copyrightable and that their reuse does not qualify as fair use. We have already criticised CAFC for being very pro-software patents and for being utterly clueless on technical matters on numerous occasions, so the latest decision from it oughtn’t be so shocking. As Ars Technica put it, “Google, which said it was exploring its legal options, decried Friday’s ruling. The Mountain View, CA-based media giant said the decision “sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development.””

Google is correct and it will hopefully appeal this decision. What we have here is misuse of copyrights, SCO style, by Oracle.

TechDirt posted the best rebuttal to this decision, attracting hundreds of comments and revealing a lot of holes and mistakes in CAFC’s ruling (the text). Here’s a sample:

Appeals Court Doesn’t Understand The Difference Between Software And An API; Declares APIs Copyrightable

[...]

We sort of expected this to happen after the appeals court for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held its oral arguments back in December, but CAFC has now spit at basic common sense and has declared that you can copyright an API. As we noted, back when Judge William Alsup (who learned to code Java to better understand the issues in the case) ruled that APIs were not subject to copyright protection, his ruling was somewhat unique in that it was clearly directed as much at an appeals court panel who would be hearing the appeal as it was at the parties. Alsup rightly suspected that the judges on the appeal wouldn’t actually understand the issues as well as he did, and tried to break it down clearly for them. Unfortunately, the three judge CAFC panel did not pay attention. The ruling is so bad that legal scholars are suggesting that it may be as bad as the horrific ruling in the Garcia case.

[...]

As for the ruling itself… well… it’s bad. The court seems to not understand what an API is, confusing it with software functionality. It also appears to misread Judge Alsup’s ruling, thinking that he’s mistakenly using a fair use analysis to determine whether or not something is copyrightable. But that was not the basis of Judge Alsup’s ruling. He very specifically noted that the “command structure is a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted.” The CAFC panel doesn’t seem to understand this at all.

[...]

It seems fairly clear that the CAFC judges don’t understand the difference between an API and software. And thus they make a decision that makes no sense. There is no distinction recognized when it comes to the functionality of an API and how it’s entirely different than the purpose of the software itself. This is especially clear towards the end, in which the CAFC ruling misrepresents some discussions on whether certain functionality is best protected by patents or copyright. But the problem is that they misinterpret statements people are making about APIs, thinking that those statements were made about software as a whole. This is just a flat-out fundamental misunderstanding of what an API is, assuming that it’s just software.

[...]

Note that “[software]” thrown in before interfaces? Google is talking about whether APIs — “application programming interfaces” — are copyrightable. Not whether or not software is copyrightable. And yet the CAFC doesn’t even seem to realize this. Ridiculously, CAFC then uses its own misunderstanding and misquote, and points to some of the (many) arguments where people argue that patents are inappropriate for software to dismiss Google’s argument about APIs. It honestly doesn’t realize that it’s comparing two totally different things. What lots of people agree on: software shouldn’t be patentable and APIs shouldn’t be copyrightable, but software can be copyrightable and API functionality may be patentable. But by confusing APIs and software, CAFC totally misreads both arguments.

This will probably go to SCOTUS next (unless they decline to weigh in), but in the mean time it spreads uncertainty and doubt, harming not only Free software developers but developers in general. As TechDirt put it, “CAFC has mucked up another form of intellectual property law through a basic (and near total) misunderstanding of technology.”

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 22/12/2014: GNU/Linux at Sky News, Another Tizen Camera

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: November 30th, 2014 – December 20th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  3. Links 21/12/2014: China and Linux, GNOME Shell 3.15.3

    Links for the day



  4. The New Age of Games for UNIX/Linux But Not for Windows, Microsoft is Openwashing Windows-Only Games

    The world is moving to GNU- and Linux-powered platforms, so Microsoft withdraws GNU/Linux support from games it buys and starts openwashing its Windows-only games



  5. Microsoft Essentially Sends Malware to Windows and Bricks It

    Microsoft is once again bricking Vista 7, demonstrating lack of reliability or very low quality programming



  6. Microsoft Lays Off Staff, Cheapens Labour as More Companies Are Dumping Microsoft's Lock-in, NSA-Friendly Services, and Windows

    A look at some of Microsoft's latest woes, including an appeal for cheaper labour amid decrease in business



  7. Links 19/12/2014: Robolinux 7.7.1 LXDE, Red Hat Thriving

    Links for the day



  8. Another Microsoft Partner Markets Linux FUD Using Logo, Name, and Lies

    Microsoft's partner Alert Logic is trying to label a feature of Linux a security flaw and even makes marketing buzz for it



  9. Redmonk is Spreading Black Duck's Anti-GPL Talking Points After Payments From Black Duck, Microsoft

    CBS' ZDNet spreads the GNU-hostile narrative which comes from Redmonk, funded by Microsoft and Black Duck, citing Black Duck, which also comes from Microsoft and is a partner of Microsoft



  10. 'Good' Software Patents From EA Show Cases Where DRM is a Patent Infringement

    Where two evils collide the public benefits, or how some software patents discourage the use of DRM



  11. Richard Stallman: What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

    New article from Richard Stallman



  12. Links 18/12/2014: LinuxQuestions.org Polls, Fedora for POWER

    Links for the day



  13. Links 16/12/2014: Google and ODF, Civilization: Beyond Earth Comes to GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  14. Bill Gates' Pet Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as Founder Quits

    Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite [cref 77299 recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft]



  15. Keeping Software Patents Out of Europe Following the Demise of Software Patents in the US

    Instability in the EPO seemingly prevents further expansion of patent scope, which is the subject of scrutiny of EPO staff



  16. Links 15/12/2014: OSI 2014 Annual Report, GPLv2 Court Test

    Links for the day



  17. Links 14/12/2014: Calligra 2.9 Beta, Krita 2.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  18. Software Patents Are Dying in the US, But Patent Lawyers Refuse to Admit It

    Patent lawyers continue to distort the reality of software patents' demise in the United States



  19. Links 13/12/2014: Android Wear “Lollipop”, European Commission and FOSS

    Links for the day



  20. Time to Take Microsoft Out of British Aviation Before Planes Crash Into Buildings

    London's mighty Heathrow Airport among those affected by a Microsoft-reliant air traffic control system which is not being able to properly recover from an outage, and not for the first time either



  21. News From France and Germany: Battistelli Under Fire, But Not Fired Yet, Just Firing His Opposition

    The régime headed by Benoît Battistelli and his criminal deputy continues to overthrow or pressure out everyone who is not 'loyal' to the régime



  22. Links 12/12/2014: Linux++, KDE Frameworks 5.5.0, Calligra 2.8.7

    Links for the day



  23. The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

    The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled



  24. US Patent Reform (on Trolls Only) More or Less Buried or Ineffective

    An update on efforts to reform the patent system in the United States, including the possibly imminent appointment of Michelle Lee to USPTO leadership role



  25. Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

    Canada's patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers



  26. Dreaming of a Just Christmas: When a Third of EPO Walks Out to Revolt and European Judges Attack the EPO Over Abuses

    Information about the abuses of Battistelli et al. at the EPO are finally receiving wider coverage and increasing the strain on Battistelli's authoritarian reign



  27. Links 11/12/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta, Firefox 35 Plans

    Links for the day



  28. Ubuntu Core Announcement is Not About Microsoft and Hosting Ubuntu on Azure is Worse Than Stupid

    The power of media spin makes the idea of hosting Free software under the control of an NSA PRISM and back doors partner seem alluring



  29. France Gets Involved in Battistelli's Abuses in the EPO - Part XII (Updated)

    The EPO scandal has officially spilled over to France, where a French Senator got involved and starts asking serious questions



  30. Rolling of Heads Likely Imminent at EPO

    The European patent system is shaking as management breaks the rules, staff is protesting against the management every week, and charges of corruption resurface


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts