Taking a stand

Jenkins creator: We must stop Oracle from copyrighting Java APIs

Elliot Bentley
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Kohsuke Kawaguchi and PaaS provider CloudBees starts petition, urging developers to “support API freedom”.

The return of Oracle and Google’s legal battle over the ownership of Java’s APIs may be tedious, but some observers believe it may have serious ramifications for the software industry.

Jenkins creator Kohsuke Kawaguchi is so strongly opposed to the copyrighting of APIs that he has begun a White House petition to raise awareness of the issue and calling for developers to “support API freedom”.

In a blog post late last week, he expressed disappointment that some were viewing the court case as “only as a storm in a teacup”, arguing: “If the appeal is successful, it has a broad implication on all sorts of APIs”.

He was backed today by his employer, Java PaaS providers CloudBees, in a blog post titled “Why Developers Should Care About Oracle’s Upcoming Appeal of the Google Lawsuit”.

CEO Sacha Labourey notes Microsoft and IBM have filed “friend-of-the-court briefs” in support of Oracle’s claim, which he believes is “about defending the aging Empire from the startup Foundation”.

Elsewhere in the blog post, Labourey doesn’t mince his words:

If they [Oracle] succeed in claiming you need their permission to use the Java APIs that they pushed as a community standard, software developers and innovation will be the losers. [...]

We believe that Oracle’s quest for a legal stranglehold on the Java API, which itself has been advanced through the Java Community Process, has nothing to do with compatibility and everything to do with cashing in on Java at the expense of the community.

CloudBees are keen on pushing open standards, as active members of the Java Community Process (the governing body that controls the development of the Java language) and by working alongside other cloud providers, including Oracle, on the CAMP API spec.

At the time of writing, the petition has less than 100 signatures – a long way from the 100,000 needed for a response from the Obama administration. However, Kawaguchi says he chose the site as a “good enough neutral petition site that hopefully people feel safe enough to join” and doesn’t expect the White House to actually respond.
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