Computer scientists oppose Oracle’s API copyright bid

A group of more than 30 computer scientists on Thursday asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco to block Oracle’s bid to copyright the widely used computer code known as application programming interfaces or APIs.

In a long-running lawsuit, now on appeal, Oracle claimed Google misused key elements of Oracle’s Java software. That includes a number of APIs, which are programs that allow different software to talk to one another.

U.S. District Judge William Alsop previously had rejected Oracle’s claim that its APIs deserved copyright protection. But Oracle’s appeal is being closely watched by the tech industry, where some experts fear copyrighting APIs could make it much harder for software developers to create new applications.

If Alsop’s ruling is reversed, it “will hand Oracle and others the ability to monopolize any and all uses of systems that share their APIs,” the 32 computer scientists declared  in a brief filed with the appeals court.

They also claimed it “would upset the settled business practices that have enabled the American computer industries to flourish and choke off many of the system’s benefits to consumers.”




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  • RedRum

    And now we see Oracle’s real reason for buying Sun. Can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

    This will be the death of Java if Oracle wins. It’s going to cause real problems with Android too unless Google can figure something out.

  • RMI00

    Everyone that writes/develops software should be on this against Oracle. Mr. Ellison has broken every rule known (like the curfew at San Jose International Airport). This would be a definitive blow to software development and who is to say that Oracle didn’t violate other works by using APIs that didn’t belong to them?

  • Everyone that writes/develops software should be on this WITH Oracle. The original design and creation of the API, along with the code supporting that API is intellectual property. A Dumb decision would be to not allow access to the API if the intent is to make the application usable by the public. A Wise decision is to hide or not publish the API which is for internal use. Pretty simple logic.

    If the intent is to create software to be used by the millions [JAVA?] then the access to the software is controlled through the API and the behaviour of the access is also controlled meaning that others do not have the right to reverse engineer the supporting code, unless they have a license to do that.

    Common sense would state that a FREE license be given to use the API, but the license restricts the rights of reverse engineering, or worse, using the same API in a different application with different supporting code rendering chaos.

    The problem with ORACLE is that they may not be quite so altruistic in their implementation. However, a copyright would have prevented the ANDROID rip-off of otherwise protected API and CODE.

    Although the legal scholars seem to be moving in opposite directions concurrently by separating the API from the underlying code, I think they are mistaken. Time will ultimately show them that it is one and the same in terms of intellectual property.

    But of course we could always say that the code cannot be protected either because if we break that down into individual symbols, it can be argued that you cannot copyright the alphabet or whatever series of unique atoms make up the wording of the code. Using that argument you also cannot copyright the API because it also is made up of elements which are inherently not copyrightable. Ad Absurdum.

    While advocating for the Copyright, equally commonsense must dictate the terms of making the copyrightable code available as needed to promote the use.