Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd May 2012 22:32 UTC, submitted by PLan
Legal "The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that application programming interfaces and other functional characteristics of computer software are not eligible for copyright protection. Users have the right to examine computer software in order to clone its functionality - and vendors cannot override these user rights with a license agreement, the court said." Bravo. A landmark ruling, for sure. If the US courts decide in favour of Oracle in the Google-Oracle case, Europe would instantly become an even friendlier place for technology companies.
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RE[3]: NOT APIs
by cfgr on Thu 3rd May 2012 03:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: NOT APIs"
cfgr
Member since:
2009-07-18

Indeed. I have always wondered how that was enforceable.

import xmllib
...
document.getElementsByTagName("div")

I'm sure there are several implementations of such an xmllib with the same API, and the exact implementation/licence depends on the library you are using at runtime. How can library A then demand that your software must be GPL'd? Even when it is the only library, the developer doesn't necessarily use and definitely doesn't distribute the code. The end-user is the one doing the puzzling.

In fact, I recall that the FSF did not consider including header files as derivative works[1]. In dynamic languages such as python, you don't even include anything before distributing it. This difference between GPL and LGPL has always been a bit fuzzy to me. Perhaps this is why many prefer to avoid the GPL nowadays.

[1] http://lkml.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0301.1/0362.html

The discussion is quite interesting to follow while keeping this court ruling about API's in mind.

Edited 2012-05-03 03:43 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: NOT APIs
by galvanash on Thu 3rd May 2012 04:04 in reply to "RE[3]: NOT APIs"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Indeed. I have always wondered how that was enforceable.


It depends. This is an admittedly grey area where different people have different opinions...

If you write a proprietary program that uses a GPL library and you distribute that library with your program you are definitely violating the GPL. However, even if you do NOT distribute the library, you are on very shaky ground unless there is a known, available version of the library with the same interface that is not GPL'd.

In effect the existence of a BSD, public domain, or LGPL version of the library insulates you from the GPL - as long as you do not distribute the version of the library covered by the GPL.

That's how I understand it at least.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: NOT APIs
by ndrw on Thu 3rd May 2012 04:20 in reply to "RE[4]: NOT APIs"
ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

"Indeed. I have always wondered how that was enforceable.


However, even if you do NOT distribute the library, you are on very shaky ground unless there is a known, available version of the library with the same interface that is not GPL'd.
"

That's where this ruling comes in. If I understand it correctly there is no gray area anymore.

Reply Parent Score: 3