Skip to comments.Oracle v Google Judge Is A Programmer!
Posted on 05/16/2012 5:08:14 PM PDT by DarthFuzball
One month into the Oracle v Google trial, Judge William Alsup has revealed that he has, and still does, write code. Will this affect the outcome?
So far all that Oracle has managed to prove is that Google copied nine lines of Java code, that are incorporated into Android operating system and eight test files that are not part of the production code. And yesterday, in a hearing about "infringer profits" Judge Alsup challenged Oracle's lawyer David Boies for trying to pin so much on the rangeCheck infringement.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, Northern District of California (Image: Hillary Jones-Mixon/The Recorder)
Boies had been trying to claim that Google's use of rangeCheck was "no accident" and that they had used it in order to save time:
They wanted it faster, faster, faster. This copying allowed them to use fewer resources and accelerate that. Suppose they accelerated it two days. They're making $3 million a day now, activating 700k or 800k phones. [something about how Google estimates they make $8 to $10 per activation] If you just get one or two days' acceleration, that's $6 million or $7 million, and it's not something that's untethered from the value that's created.
Judge Alsup then reminded Boies that, in order to claim infringer damages, Oracle will have to prove a "causal nexus", i.e a connection, between the infringement and the body of profits being sought. To this Boies replied:
I still think it's possible to demonstrate a nexus by showing that speed was very important to Google in getting Android out, and by copying they accelerated that.
It was at this point that the Judge made the revelation that caused a flurry of excitement:
I have done, and still do, a significant amount of programming in other languages. I've written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before. I could do it, you could do it. The idea that someone would copy that when they could do it themselves just as fast, it was an accident. There's no way you could say that was speeding them along to the marketplace. You're one of the best lawyers in America, how could you even make that kind of argument?
Boies obviously misunderstands and responds:
I want to come back to rangeCheck.
To which Judge Alsup deliver's a body blow which indicates he at least does understand how straightforward it would be to program rangeCheck from scratch:
Judge: rangeCheck! All it does is make sure the numbers you're inputting are within a range, and gives them some sort of exceptional treatment. That witness, when he said a high school student could do it--
And the lawyer reveals he doesn't:
I'm not an expert on Java -- this is my second case on Java, but I'm not an expert, and I probably couldn't program that in six months.
Perhaps the moral of this is that Oracle should have included a programmer as part of its legal team.
However more important is the fact that Judge Alsup. who has a mathematics degree, really does understands the technical issues at the heart of this case. He has written code and over the period of his involvement of this case has extended his knowledge of programming languages to include Java. While he instructed the jury to make their deliberations on the basis that the 37 APIs were copyrightable this is a decision he has yet to make and at the start of yesterday's proceedings her stated:
I have been working hard on the order dealing with copyrightability, and I don't think I'll have that in the next week for sure.
Another thing is for sure, he'll be taking an informed look at the question and won't be swayed by vacuous arguments.
Perhaps every judge should be a coding judge - it must make the law seem a lot simpler...
Hope I got it right.
Oracle is the greatest nest of swindlers in all of computerdom. And their corruption is everywhere.
whoa! a judge that actually has a clue about development and doesn’t think it pfm
there could be a small chance for a sane ruling
And he's right. I don't know how many rangecheck() functions that I've cobbled together quickly to stop a program from doing stupid stuff with garbage data.
private int rangeCheck(int x, int y)
This simplistic example just tweaks data, something most programmers can do in their sleep. To suggest that a bounds check algorithm takes six months is laughable. That said, why would Google need to rip a limiter from oracle anyway? I have found that plugging in someone else's code can sometimes make a project take longer than if you just hack it together yourself anyway.
David Boies - the same attorney who fought so hard for Al Gore and Michael Moore is now in bed with Oracle. I hold for the Defendant
A competent judge is a rare and much appreciated part of this litigation
“To suggest that a bounds check algorithm takes six months is laughable.”
Well, now, if you put a million monkeys in a room full of PCs for six months you still wouldn’t likely have a viable rangeCheck algorithm. I believe, however, that those monkeys do constitute Oracle’s programming staff.
This is a positive development. The idiot judge during the Microsoft Anti-Trust case (Bill Clinton’s most successful wag the dog maneuver) thought that deleting the internet explorer icon from the desktop was the same as removing it from the windows installation.
Its all BS. The judge is full of it.
Using this judge’s logic, a person should be able to go to college and download all their papers, project assignments, and homework submissions from a copyrighted source, turn them in and get full credit for them.
When the student gets found out for cheating and for copyright infringement, this judge thinks they can justifiably claim “it was only an accident.” They should be given the benefit of the doubt, and get chance to recreate their submissions on their own.
Someone at Google made a decision to do what was done. They planned to copy Intellectual Property from Oracle, and they carried out their plan.
I hope Larry Ellison extracts $Billions out of Google!
Since when can you copyright an API? That was hashed out in Atari vs Accolade about 30 years ago. Copyright covers the expression of an algorithm (the code that implements the interface), not the interface itself.
Otherwise Linus Torvalds could have never published Linux, which was based on published AT&T System V and BSD APIs for Unix.
No the judge is right and there is good case law to back him up.
You said Using this judges logic, a person should be able to go to college and download all their papers, project assignments, and homework submissions from a copyrighted source, turn them in and get full credit for them.
To make your example actually work according to the scale used here, we would have to make some changes to your parameters.
If you have 2 students who sit at opposite ends of the class room each writing a 2 page essay as part of an exam and each used an exact copy of the same sentence at some point in the essay.
Then the instructor decided that it was "similar but reasonable", and passed both students.
That's a comparison using students/papers/cheating in a scale that matches the case here.
I hope Larry Ellison extracts $Billions out of Google!
Really???!!! Someone inadvertently or on accidently on purpose produced 9 lines of code to implement brain dead pseudo-code like "if ((x < 1) OR (x > 10)) then throw an exception" when they literally (as the judge says) could have written this in their sleep, or in little more than a minute, and suddenly its a "plan" to steal IP from Oracle? Really???!!! As a long time hardware/software/systems engineer & more recently DRE software architect, this is laughable beyond comprehension.
Look, I understand the sentiment to hate the libs at Google and want to see them taken to the cleaners & punished financially - for whatever reason. But this nonsense isn't it. Despite all recent evidence to the contrary, I really want to believe that the rule of law and common sense still count for something in this Godforsaken socialist run country. But this is like charging someone a billion dollars for looking at you the wrong way.
Morever, I might add that in the pantheon of despicable high tech software companies - including Google, Oracle, IBM, Apple & Microsoft, I'd unfortunately put those greedy, open source killing/looting b@astards at Oracle at the top of the list - although the others are close behind.
Very well said.
This is starting to remind me of the old SCO v Linux flamewars.
I missed those. They were so entertaining.
Both companies are as shifty and crooked as can be; they should both be shut down on general principles.
Me too. I haven't been following this case close enough to tell who the good guys and bad guys are, but I'm really glad that the judge, for once, actually understands what he is being asked to rule on.
From the article, it sounds like Oracle is pinning a lot to this 'rangeCheck' function (though I wouldn't be surprised if the reporter got that wrong). If so, the judge rightly shut them down. Hell I can set up a function to validate input in a line or two of shell code in bash, and I'm not even a programmer.
Disclosure: Over the past few years, I've really come to hate Oracle with a passion, so I'm tempted to root for them to lose regardless of the facts.
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