The verdict is in once again on the Oracle vs Google lawsuit regarding Google's use of Java in Android, and no sooner was Google declared the winner than Oracle announced their intent to appeal (at least) once more. The reaction to the verdict has been widespread in technology circles as one would expect, although the reaction is fairly one-sided (see thread examples here and here).
In reading some of the reaction on a range of site, I'm not seeing much (any?) sympathy for Oracle's loss, which might seem odd in a case like this. If you think about high-profile copyright/patent cases or questions of ownership in other industries, the public sympathy tends to be with the owner/creator. Remember Ice Ice Baby? (I'm trying to forget). The public was happy to see Vanilla Ice paying Queen royalties for using their song. Human nature in these types of cases would make one inclined to be behind Oracle, but this is a different case.
There could be several explanations for the one-sided reaction. A few theories...
- People simply agree with the legal decision - This is a possibility, although I would question how much the general software community has read about the details of the case or the intricacies of copyright law.
- Software communities dislike patent and copyright law (or misapplied law) - This isn't quite like a music case, but it does seem the tendency in most industries would be sympathy for the alleged victim of a 'theft'. In software (particularly the open source world) we might see a tendency towards supporting those that create something new out of an existing item.
Oracle didn't create Java - This fact likely isn't lost on experienced Java developers or anyone still using the dated J2EE naming convention on their resume, but Oracle didn't actually invent the thing that they are suing over. Are we less sympathetic to Oracle's loss because they aren't the original inventor? The $9B damages estimate is reportedly more than Oracle paid for all of Sun Microsystems. Just for a timeline, Android joined Google in 2005, Sun open sourced Java in 2006, and Oracle acquired Sun in 2010.
The Java community's relationship with Oracle - Oracle has had a strange relationship with Java since before the ink dried on the Sun acquisition, so it's not a huge surprise that those in the Java community would celebrate a Google victory.
The implications from verdicts of cases like these can impact the entire industry. In this particular case, it seems that most of the industry would just like it to end.