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Mozilla: Conda, Firefox 73 and Mozilla Weighs in on Google v Oracle (SCOTUS)

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  • Conda is pretty great

    Lately the data engineering team has been looking into productionizing (i.e. running in Airflow) a bunch of models that the data science team has been producing. This often involves languages and environments that are a bit outside of our comfort zone — for example, the next version of Mission Control relies on the R-stan library to produce a model of expected crash behaviour as Firefox is released.

    [...]

    I had been vaguely aware of Conda for a few years, but didn’t really understand its value proposition until I started working on the above project: why bother with a heavyweight package manager when you already have Docker to virtualize things? The answer is that it solves both of the above problems: for local development, you can get something more-or-less identical to what you’re running inside Docker with no performance penalty whatsoever. And for building the docker container itself, Conda’s package repository contains pre-compiled versions of all the dependencies you’d want to use for something like this (even somewhat esoteric libraries like R-stan are available on conda-forge), which brought my build cycle times down to less than 5 minutes.

  • Newsletter 2 (Firefox 73)

    Heads up: the next newsletter will likely cover both Firefox 74 and Firefox 75 due to the shorter release cycles this year.

  • Competition and Innovation in Software Development Depend on a Supreme Court Reversal in Google v. Oracle

    Today, Mozilla filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court in Google v. Oracle, the decade-long case involving questions of copyright for functional elements of Oracle’s Java SE. This is the fourth amicus brief so far that Mozilla has filed in this case, and we are joined by Medium, Cloudera, Creative Commons, Shopify, Etsy, Reddit, Open Source Initiative, Mapbox, Patreon, Wikimedia Foundation, and Software Freedom Conservancy.

    Arguing from the perspective of small, medium, and open source technology organizations, the brief urges the Supreme Court to reverse the Federal Circuit’s holdings first that the structure, sequence, and organization (“SSO”) of Oracle’s Java API package was copyrightable, and subsequently that Google’s use of that SSO was not a “fair use” under copyright law.

    At bottom in the case is the issue of whether copyright law bars the commonplace practice of software reimplementation, “[t]he process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product.” (Google brief p.7) Here, Google had repurposed certain functional elements of Java SE (less that 0.5% of Java SE overall, according to Google’s brief, p. 8) in its Android operating system for the sake of interoperability—enabling Java apps to work with Android and Android apps to work with Java, and enabling Java developers to build apps for both platforms without needing to learn the new conventions and structure of an entirely new platform.

More on the SCOTUS Case

  • The case for open innovation

    The Court will review whether copyright should extend to nuts-and-bolts software interfaces, and if so, whether it can be fair to use those interfaces to create new technologies, as the jury in this case found. Software interfaces are the access points that allow computer programs to connect to each other, like plugs and sockets. Imagine a world in which every time you went to a different building, you needed a different plug to fit the proprietary socket, and no one was allowed to create adapters.

    This case will make a difference for everyone who touches technology—from startups to major tech platforms, software developers to product manufacturers, businesses to consumers—and we’re pleased that many leading representatives of those groups will be filing their own briefs to support our position.

  • Google says nature of APIs under threat as Oracle case heads to US Supreme Court

    The case – ten years in making – centres on Oracle’s claims that its Java patents and copyrights were infringed by Google when the search giant created its Android mobile operating system. An initial ruling in Google’s favour was overturned on appeal, and the case is finally due to land in the Supreme Court this year. Google filed its opening brief for the justices this week.

The Hill's coverage

  • Tech industry rallies behind Google in Supreme Court fight

    Some of Google's most formidable rivals – including Microsoft, IBM and Mozilla, which makes Firefox – filed amicus briefs on behalf of Google on Monday, arguing the high court could severely harm technological innovation if it sides with Oracle in the landmark copyright case.

    After nearly a decade of arguments in lower courts, the Supreme Court in 2019 agreed to take on the "copyright case of the decade" and decide whether Google violated federal copyright law when it used some of Oracle's programming language to build its Android operating system.

EFF's position

  • EFF Asks Supreme Court To Reverse Dangerous Rulings About API Copyrightability and Fair Use

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that functional aspects of Oracle’s Java programming language are not copyrightable, and even if they were, employing them to create new computer code falls under fair use protections.The court is reviewing a long-running lawsuit Oracle filed against Google, which claimed that Google’s use of certain Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in its Android operating system violated Oracle’s copyrights. The case has far-reaching implications for innovation in software development, competition, and interoperability.In a brief filed today, EFF argues that the Federal Circuit, in ruling APIs were copyrightable, ignored clear and specific language in the copyright statute that excludes copyright protection for procedures, processes, and methods of operation.“Instead of following the law, the Federal Circuit decided to rewrite it to eliminate almost all the exclusions from copyright protection that Congress put in the statute,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “APIs are not copyrightable. The Federal Circuit’s ruling has created a dangerous precedent that will encourage more lawsuits and make innovative software development prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, the Supreme Court can and should fix this mess.”In the first round of the case, in 2014, the Federal Circuit reversed a lower court to find that APIs were copyrightable, but sent the case back for trial on fair use. In the second round, the court took the almost unprecedented step of overturning a jury verdict of fair use. If upheld, these dangerous and flawed decisions will continue to put at risk the ability of developers to freely create innovative software that benefit the public because it can be used across platforms and services.“Treating the Java APIs as copyrightable gives Oracle, which stands to make billions from that decision, outsized control and monopoly power over the development of Java-compatible programs. Copyright law aims to stimulate creativity for the public good, not lock developers into a licensing scheme for the functional aspects of software,” said EFF Special Counsel Michael Barclay.

Michael Risch brief

  • Google v. Oracle: Amicus Briefing

    Hello again, it's been a while. My administrative duties have sadly kept me busy, limiting my blogging since the summer. But since I've blogged consistently about Google v. Oracle (fka Oracle v. Google) about every two years, the time has come to blog again.

    I won't recap the case here -my former post(s) do so nicely. I'm just reporting that 20+ amicus briefs were filed in the last week, which SCOTUSblog has nicely curated from the electronic filing system.

    There are many industry briefs. They all say much the same thing - an Oracle win would be bad for industry, and also inconsistent with the law (The R Street brief -and prior op ed-describes how Oracle has copied Amazon's cloud based API declarations).

Microsoft and IBM: Here's why we back Google in Oracle Java...

  • Microsoft and IBM: Here's why we back Google in Oracle Java API copyright case

    The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Google vs Oracle case in March, after the court last year agreed to reconsider a favorable decision towards Oracle by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2014. The court reversed a federal court jury decision that Google's use of Java API packages in its Android operating system constituted "fair use".

    Google filed its opening brief on January 6 and since then dozens of stakeholders, including IBM, Microsoft, and Firefox-maker Mozilla, have filed a total of 27 'friend of the court' briefs outlining opposition to the idea that software APIs should be copyrightable.

Conservancy Joins Mozilla's Amicus Brief in Google v. Oracle

  • Conservancy Joins Mozilla's Amicus Brief in Google v. Oracle

    We are pleased to announce our participation in an amicus brief filed by Mozilla with the United States Supreme Court. The amicus brief calls on the court to reverse the Federal Circuit's earlier decision. The earlier decision came down in Oracle's favor and held Oracle's Java API copyrightable. We Amici (Latin for "friends of the court") are asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of Google and take the stand that copyright law should not be expanded to include API's. Developers rely on the ability to use API's without fear of retaliation to provide users with interoperability, additional choices, and modifiable software. Forcing payment agreements in this new area disproportionately harms smaller projects and projects in the public interest.

    In addition to Conservancy, Mozilla was joined by other charities including Creative Commons, Open Source Initiative, and Wikimedia Foundation, as well as a number of small to medium tech companies that rely on FOSS and the freedom to innovate.

Professor Samuelson "on Why the Supreme Court Should Reverse"

  • Google v. Oracle: Amici Weigh in on Why the Supreme Court Should Reverse the Federal Circuit’s Rulings

    In the past week 28 amicus curiae briefs were filed in the Google v. Oracle case, including one written by me and Catherine Crump (of which more below). All but two support reversal of one or both of the Federal Circuit’s copyrightability and fair use rulings.[1]

    Especially significant are IBM’s brief with Red Hat arguing against the copyrightability of computer interfaces and Microsoft’s brief criticizing the Federal Circuit’s unduly rigid fair use analysis and indifference to the need for flexible rules that promote interoperability in today’s highly connected world. The briefs are substantively excellent, and significant because these firms are such prominent developers of software.

    For those interested in the case who are not computing professionals, I recommend the amicus briefs submitted by 83 computer scientists and by the Developers Alliance which explain the Java API technology and why reuse of Java declarations and interfaces generally is so important to enabling compatibility. Several other briefs, including one for the Center for Democracy and Technology et al., and another for R Street and Public Knowledge, offer numerous examples of compatible software systems that benefit consumers as well as software developers

    By my count, more than half of the 28 amicus briefs focus only on the copyrightability issue and another 9 address both the copyrightability and fair use issues. Only 4—the Microsoft, Tushnet, Snow, and Rauschenberg Foundation briefs–address only fair use. This was a something of a surprise given that the fair use decision seems quite vulnerable to challenge. After all, a jury rendered a verdict in favor of Google’s fair use defense, and appellate courts are supposed to defer to jury verdicts. Several amicus briefs take the Federal Circuit to task for substituting its judgment on the merits for the jury’s as to issues about which there was conflicting evidence in the record. Also much criticized are the Federal Circuit’s analysis of the four fair use factors and the manner in which it weighed the factors together.

    One very pragmatic reason why some amici would prefer that the Court rule on the copyrightability issue over the fair use issue is that fair use is a fact-intensive, complex, and much debated limitation on copyright. Google may be able to litigate software interface copyright cases for a decade or more, as it has done in this case, but startups and other small and medium-size companies as well as open source developers would prefer the certainty of a no-copyright-in-interfaces rule, as several amicus briefs pointed out. If the Court rules that interfaces are not protectable by copyright law, litigation over reuses of interfaces is much less likely. And if some developer does bring suit, chances are good that the case can be won on a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment

OSI Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court's Google v. Oracle

  • OSI Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court's Google v. Oracle

    The Open Source Initiative is proud to join OSI affiliate members Creative Commons, Mozilla Foundation, Software Freedom Conservancy, and Wikimedia Foundation along with other small, medium and open source technology organizations in filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the Google v. Oracle case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In Google v. Oracle, Oracle successfully convinced the appeals court that Google's reuse of a limited number of Java declarations in its creation of the Android operating system is a copyright infringement and that a jury finding it fair use was mistaken. The brief asks that the Court reverse this decision and confirm that, as has been the common understanding for decades, API interfaces are not copyrightable and that their reuse by others is a fair use under copyright law.

Red Hat and IBM Jointly File Another Amicus Brief

  • Red Hat and IBM Jointly File Another Amicus Brief In Google v. Oracle, Arguing APIs Are Not Copyrightable

    Monday Red Hat and IBM jointly filed their own amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the "Google vs. Oracle" case, arguing that APIs cannot be copyrighted.

    "That simple, yet powerful principle has been a cornerstone of technological and economic growth for over sixty years. When published (as has been common industry practice for over three decades) or lawfully reverse engineered, they have spurred innovation through competition, increased productivity and economic efficiency, and connected the world in a way that has benefited commercial enterprises and consumers alike."

Google garners support from tech industry in Supreme Court API

  • Google garners support from tech industry in Supreme Court API copyright fight

    The Google-Oracle legal battle dates back over a decade, with the core issue being whether copyright laws bar the commonplace practice of software reimplementation -- the "process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product".

    Oracle won the most recent iteration of the legal fight, with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruling that the functional elements of application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright. Since then however, Google has got the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reconsider Oracle's court victory.

    Submitting a joint "friend of the court" brief on Monday -- a legal document that offers information that has a bearing on the issues of a court case -- Mozilla, Medium, Cloudera, Reddit, along with others, have pleaded for SCOTUS to reverse the Federal Court's decision and allow for APIs to continue to be free from copyright, or at least be available for fair use.

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