Some people claim that nothing is unique. That everything we come up with has already been done by many others and will be done again. But there’s a difference between great minds think alike and someone repeating something they’ve seen someone else do.
Copyright law exists to protect creative ventures and intellectual property. That can get tricky when it becomes difficult to draw the line between the things that constitute infringement and the things that are considered public domain. For example, an entire work, such as a song, article, or book, is eligible for copyright, but short phrases and individual words are not.
Writing software code is not much different from writing anything else. On the one hand, it requires a certain amount of creativity and, although two people may write code that does essentially the same thing, they will not write it in exactly the same way. On the other hand, there are only so many ways they can tell a computer how to do something. If some of those ways are protected by copyrights, it severely limits the options coders have for trying to do the same or similar things.
This debate is at the heart of a lawsuit Oracle Corporation filed against Google for allegedly stealing code written by Java and using it in Google’s Android. In its complaint, Oracle alleges purchasing Java was the most significant and lucrative purchase it has made, and that everything produced by that company should therefore be protected as Oracle’s property. Because Google has made an estimated $21 billion in profit from Android since it launched in 2007, Oracle is claiming $9 billion of that money. Continue reading ›