In Oracle v. Google, a Nerd Subculture Is on Trial
Ed note: The jury ruled in favor of Google. Even so, I found this pre-verdict article’s framing to be interesting.
But ever since a bunch of normals at the Federal Circuit decided in 2014 that the structure, sequence, and organization of the Java APIs are copyrightable, copyrightable they are—and now Google witnesses are struggling to explain their actions as part of a long shared history in an insular community of nerds with their own language, their own mythology, their own intuitions about software and intellectual property.Oracle v. Google is the revenge of the normals, bringing a hammer down on the customs and practices that the nerds decided for themselves. After all, something can’t be copyrightable just because all the nerds agree it is; so why should something be unable to be copyrighted just because the nerds think it is?But Oracle v. Google does nothing to disabuse the nerd of the conviction that they are right, and that the copyright law forged by the normals is an unrigorous wishy-washy piece of nonsense. Because in this case, the law really is completely out of touch with what the technology actually is, with reality itself. Just look at the Federal Circuit opinion that ruled that APIs are copyrightable, where they say, “Google was free to develop its own API packages and to ‘lobby’ programmers to adopt them.” A federal appeals court actually proposed that in some alternate universe, Android launched and told developers to write apps in a language they’d never encountered before.