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 28/8/2014: Many New Games, CTO of Red Hat Steps Down

    Links for the day



  2. We Are Gradually Winning the Battle Against Software Patents

    The once-elusive war on software patents is finally leading to some breakthrough and even the Federal Circuit reinforces the trend of software patents' demise



  3. Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Companies Versus FOSS Moles (VMware, Sonatype, Xamarin)

    A look at three entities which pretend to be pro-FOSS but are actually FOSS-hostile and very much determined to replace FOSS with proprietary software



  4. Links 27/8/2014: GNU/Linux in Space, China, LinuxCon

    Links for the day



  5. FUD Against Google and FOSS Security Amid Microsoft Windows Security Blunders

    In the age of widespread fraud due to Microsoft Windows with its back doors there is an attempt to shift focus to already-fixed flaws/deficiencies in competitors of Microsoft



  6. Microsoft Spin Watch: IDG Turns to More Microsoft Propaganda, Hires Microsoft Boosters

    Media in Microsoft's pocket is telling Microsoft's lies and deceives the public for Microsoft's bottom line



  7. Microsoft's Massive Tax Evasion Becomes Better Known

    A new report about Microsoft's admission that it plays dirty tricks with tax (sometimes using moles in government) is increasing awareness of Microsoft's criminal aspects



  8. Links 25/8/2014: China's Linux Revolution Imminent

    Links for the day



  9. Links 24/8/2014: GNU/Linux Specialisation and Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  10. Links 23/8/2014: GNU/Linux Growth

    Links for the day



  11. Microsoft-Funded Attacks on Android Security and Patent/Copyright

    A look back at examples of people who smear Android and are receiving (or received) money from Microsoft



  12. Blowback in Chile and Munich After Microsoft Intervention

    Microsoft's attacks on the digital sovereignty of countries involves lobbying, corruption, an attack on standards (e.g. ODF), an attack on FOSS policies, and even an attack on accurate reporting (truth itself)



  13. The End of Microsoft is Nigh

    A look back at a tough year for Microsoft and a not-so-promising future



  14. Links 22/8/2014: Linux Foundation LFCS, LFCE

    Links for the day



  15. UPS Burned by Microsoft Windows, Gives Away Massive Number of Credit Card Details

    UPS is the latest victim of Microsoft's shoddy back door with software on top of it (Windows); attempts to blame FOSS for data compromise actually divert attention from the real culprit, which is proprietary software



  16. Microsoft's Funding of ALEC and Other Systemic Corruption

    Microsoft role in writing of laws by proxy, via groups such as ALEC



  17. Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

    Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences



  18. Microsoft's Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as 20% of Staff Laid Off

    More good news regarding the demise of patents as Microsoft's leading patent proxy is collapsing more rapidly than anyone ever imagined and software patents too are collectively doubted



  19. Links 21/8/2014: Conferences of Linux Foundation, Elephone Emerges

    Links for the day



  20. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  21. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  22. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  23. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  24. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  25. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  26. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  27. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  28. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  29. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  30. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software


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