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[4]: NOT APIs
by Slambert666 on Thu 3rd May 2012 04:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: NOT APIs"
Slambert666
Member since:
2008-10-30

Also, I don't understand this GPL vs LGPL thing that was brought up. The difference between those two licenses rest solely on an explicit exception in the LGPL to allow linking without the license affecting the linked work. How does this decision apply to this? Neither the GPL or the LGPL have any clauses in them concerning reverse engineering or barring the other party from creating an independent implementation. Hell, reverse engineering is practically encouraged in the OSS world...


If the API itself isn't copyrightable is the "use" of the API then copyrightable?
GPL says yes it is copyrightable and this affects other works that links to it.
However if the use of the API is not copyrightable then the difference between GPL and LGPL cease to exist.
It also raises the question of when are you modifying a work and when are you using an API, it all becomes very muddy.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: NOT APIs
by galvanash on Thu 3rd May 2012 04:38 in reply to "RE[4]: NOT APIs"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I think your off on a wild tangent. No offense meant, I just don't see any correlation between this ruling and the GPL/LGPL at all. Its simple:

1. The GPL/LGPL are licenses based purely in copyright law.
2. You cannot copyright an idea, only expressions of idea.
3. An API is an idea.

Thus the GPL/LGPL simply do not apply to APIs... They apply to the code you wrote, not the idea (API) being expressed. The linking clause (the distinction between the two licenses) has nothing to do with APIs or ideas - it is about what constitutes a derived work. The way linking is implemented is a function of the language you choose to use - it has nothing at all to do with your code or what it expresses.

If the API itself isn't copyrightable is the "use" of the API then copyrightable?
GPL says yes it is copyrightable and this affects other works that links to it.


No. You are linking to an implementation, not an API - it is the implementation that affects the other works that link to it. The GPL doesn't cover the arrangement of interfaces in a library (i.e. it's API) - it only covers the underlying source code and its binary representation when run.

If someone writes a 100% compatible independent implementation without using any of the source code from the GPL version they are free to license it however they see fit - they did not violate the copyright of the GPL code and thus are not affected by it.

Edited 2012-05-03 04:47 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[6]: NOT APIs
by Alfman on Thu 3rd May 2012 06:08 in reply to "RE[5]: NOT APIs"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

galvanash,

I understand what you are saying. But there is obviously more gray than you're implying.

In order to convey the precise ideas for an API, one must express the API, no exception.

When humans talk to one another, there's a great deal of room for expression. But when talking to a compiler, language constructs have a precise semantic purpose. In order to supply the idea of a compatible API structures & functions & classes to the compiler, it's necessarily going to take a form semantically resembling the original, this is an unavoidable part of creating a compatible API.

It seems the court claimed the ideas aren't copyrightable, which we already knew all along, but stopped short of saying whether expressions of those ideas were copyrightable when they produce exceedingly similar code to the original expression.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: NOT APIs
by Slambert666 on Fri 4th May 2012 03:02 in reply to "RE[5]: NOT APIs"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

The GPL doesn't cover the arrangement of interfaces in a library (i.e. it's API) - it only covers the underlying source code and its binary representation when run.


So if I only include the header files from a GPL licensed library my code does not become GPL, because the copyright does not cover the header files, hmmmm.

I believe you will find that the FSF has a radically different interpretation of that specific issue, because that is exactly the purpose of the GPL, and the whole reason for the LGPL is that you cannot link to a GPL licensed library neither static or dynamic without being covered by the GPL itself. If you are telling the truth and not just lying in order to win the argument, then why does the LGPL even exist?

Reply Parent Score: 1