Let's see how nerds snarking in court works out for them

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An API gives names and definitions of verbs. The names indicate how to bring about the action or ask for the state of being, and the definitions describe what the action or state is, and also what nouns make sense when used together with the verbs. It doesn’t describe the mechanics of how the action was performed.


Strange. This article makes it sound like the witness had trouble “connecting” with the jury and yet other articles I read made it sound like he had embarrassed the Oracle lawyer by making him look stupid and unprepared.


Not mutually exclusive…


Err, Schwartz isn’t on trial. He’s just a witness, who Oracle wants to discredit because his statements while he was in charge of Sun really support Google’s stance in this whole thing.


basically, the best possible comment for this thread.


Unfortunately, while watching the nerds not succeed in court is fun and all; it’s difficult to overstate Just How Totally Fucked Basically Everything Ever will be if Google gets hammered in this case.

I don’t much care whether they end up on the hook for a few billion to Oracle or not(Not that I like Oracle; but the monetary damages are simply not a problem for the world outside of Google): The trouble is that, if APIs are deemed copyrightable, we get another giant expansion of copyright into a dubiously suitable place, one that effectively means that building interoperable substitutes for more or less anything that has some software in it becomes legally tricky for the more or less arbitrarily long copyright term.

The idea that you can’t copyright APIs may be a nerd delusion that is now being punctured by normal people from outside the bubble; but it’s a nerd delusion that has more or less made contemporary computer technology possible; which is being monkeyed with by a bunch of copyright maximalist lawyers attempting to reason-by-analogy from laws crafted to protect assorted flavors of artistic work. Their ideas are…unlikely…to improve the state of the tech industry.


This article invokes a almost visceral level of anger in me. Sarah Jeong seems to be writing an article for an magazine which ostensibly covers the computing industry, from the perspective of someone who really doesn’t care about computing. Who does she think her audience is?


I agree. It also reads like she thinks the “nerds” she’s talking about are a little clique in some weird subculture as opposed to members of an enormous, successful, important, and growing piece of the US economy, who also happen to be current or former CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies. It seems like their inability to effectively communicate their views to the court has less to do with some kind of adherence to a nerd religion, as Jeong suggests, and more to do with the fact that they know so enormously much more about these topics than the judge or jury, who refuse to let them explain the basic principles of the industry.


I would suggest that the workarounds and development difficulties that would be introduced by copyrighted APIs being something that’d “Totally Fuck Basically Everything Ever” is quite a massive nerd delusion in itself.


Nerds, please explain it to normals this way:

Programmers are Wizards. They create spells that they put on magical, digital paper, fed to enslaved demons that read the spells at the whim of anyone in control of the demon. An operating system is a special spell that gives a demon life and instructs the demon how to read other spells. An API is a book of spells that other spells can invoke. Spells now control nearly all aspects of everyone’s life. Obey the Wizards and they’ll try to make sure the demon’s don’t write their own spells to take over the world. Have a nice day.


Like others here, I hope Google wins this case, for the reasons fuzzyfungus has clearly outlined.

But I can’t help sympathize with Schwartz’s obvious frustration. Imagine if, right now were the period in time where humans were first trying to figure out how to build big bridges. Companies would constantly be trying to patent basic engineering principles that they “discovered”. Simultaneously, you would have courts and politicians trying to mandate how bridges be built - imposing rules that would create weak bridges and put people at risk (see the encryption debate).

Obviously, better technology education (not arrogant snarking) is the key here. But contending with a public that is hugely ignorant about the technology that they use every day (and how court cases and government policy can break it) is hugely infuriating. Some kind of societal shift is needed so that we can deal with this kind of stuff effectively.


It’s all well and good for Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android, to sit in a courtroom and explain that Android makes money despite giving a product away for free, but outside the walls of the courthouse, the elegant, perfectly manicured, proprietary walled gardens of Apple are beating the goddamn pants off Android.

Android has >50% market share pretty much everywhere but Japan …


Would it be pedantic to point out that the title of Sara Jeong’s article ‘“Nerds getting owned by normals” in Oracle v Google’ ought to be “Nerds getting pwned by normals”…

I totally understand Schwartz’s frustration with explaining technology to luddites. (I resent the use of the term “normals”.)I once had to assist a user with a simple web link titled “click here to change your password”. Turns out they didn’t really understand what a mouse was, or a link, or “clicking”… When you’re trying to explain something important and discovering that your audience is someone whose technical understanding is so far from your own can feel like having the rug pulled out from beneath you.


You might want to review the European decision I suppose. APIs are explicitly not copyright-monopolizable in Europe since 2012, because the Europeans can actually understand how disastrous it would be. So, in one sense you’re right: APIs being mindboggingly idiotically copyright-monopolized in the USA can at present really only screw over the Americans, not everyone. Well, at least until the insane copyright cultists still infesting American (and to be fair European) corridors of power next try to get Europe to “harmonize” with increasingly ridiculous American laws under some “free” trade treaty that is nothing of the sort.


I guess what I’m getting at is that yes, copyrighted APIs would play hell with the development of ideas and innovation in the technology sector, the same way that it can affect patents. But there’s a pretty big difference between stifling Silicon Valley innovation and “fucking basically everything ever”.


The hard part to understand is they may be of normal intelligence, and may in fact know more than you about some subjects. They may even sign your paychecks.


Given the number of things that have firmware of some sort and speak a protocol of some kind, a markedly smaller difference than it once was.

We don’t call all the points of interaction between devices and pieces of software ‘APIs’ but they are conceptually similar enough that vendors would certainly start if doing so provided robust and effectively permanent veto power over anybody inter operating with their products without their explicit blessing.


Not quite.

An API is a list of just the incantations for spells that other spells can invoke. Unless you (or someone else) does the grunt work to turn those incantations into full spells, it’s useless - but if you do, then anyone else who is familiar with those incantations can use them to save work when creating larger, more complex spells.