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From Aristedes Maniatis <...@maniatis.org>
Subject Re: Regarding Java and the LGPL (fwd)
Date Mon, 04 Jun 2012 06:11:41 GMT
On 1/06/12 8:30pm, Sam Ruby wrote:
> On Thu, May 31, 2012 at 11:22 PM, Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com> wrote:
>>
>> On May 31, 2012, at 6:09 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
>>
>>> On Thu, May 31, 2012 at 7:14 PM, Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com> wrote:
>>>> One of the nice things about today's Alsup ruling is that we
>>>> can finally, definitively, and without regard to the FSF's opinions,
>>>> resolve the issue of name-based dynamic binding in Java and its
>>>> meaning for the LGPL terms.  The names are not copyrightable.
>>>>
>>>> http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120531173633275
>>>
>>> An article on CNET suggests that the ruling is more narrow than that:
>>>
>>> http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57444928-38/judge-says-37-oracle-apis-are-not-copyrightable/
>>
>> It isn't general to all APIs.  It is general to the issue of name-based
>> dynamic binding in Java because that is why the specific APIs were
>> deemed non-copyrightable.
>
> I continue to read the decision as more narrow than that you imply:
>
> "Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular
> elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the
> Copyright Act."


I can't speak so much for the American legal system, but in the British and Australian common
law system (which is very similar in many ways), a judgement on its own is neither narrow
nor broad. A judgement stands on its own facts until such time as it is cited in a future
case. The more often it is cited on slightly different facts, the broader the interpretation
becomes. Often the way judges distinguish (that is, ignore) previous judgements is by interpreting
them as narrowly as possible, exactly as Alsup did with the Dentalab case.

Common law is essentially revisionist history of case decisions. Over time the bits that judges
like are referenced again and again, and become the basis of common law you can rely on. This
one case from a Circuit court isn't that, but it is certainly a strong precedent which I am
sure will be cited by lawyers everywhere in the USA for years to come. We'll know in 20 years
whether it stands the test of time. All of us hope so, but I think it is a little early for
Apache to base any major decisions on just yet.


One problem with the GPL is that there are so few cases brought on it, that there just isn't
enough case law to state whether using an API ("binding") from a GPL program will infect the
whole application as GPL. FSF think so [1] and that using "exec" magically eliminates the
API binding problem[2] although I'm personally at a loss to explain why kernel threads have
anything to do with copyright law. Certainly Alsup's decision raises some interesting questions.
I'd say this questions appears a long way from "finally, definitively".

Ari Maniatis


[1] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0-faq.html#IfInterpreterIsGPL
[2] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins


>
>> IOW, he affirmed Larry's interpretation of the same copyright laws.
>
> It certainly is not inconsistent with that interpretation.
>
>> ....Roy
>
> - Sam Ruby
>
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-- 
-------------------------->
Aristedes Maniatis
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