Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 15th May 2012 18:04 UTC
Legal "If Judge William Alsup rules that APIs are subject to copyrights, he would overturn common wisdom in programming circles, potentially exposing many companies and developers who have built software platforms that openly mimic existing APIs. But that's not all. Such a ruling could shake things up for many other companies across the programming world and beyond." The fact we even have to worry about this speaks volumes about the state of the industry.
Thread beginning with comment 518336
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Disingenous crap
by vaette on Wed 16th May 2012 06:59 UTC
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

The article makes the same mistake that people love to make in this debate. Whether or not you agree with API copyrightability it does obviously not work like the article says, you cannot, as it suggests, copyright "public int fetchNumberOfOverdueAccounts(int groupID);", the totality of the work has to be large and unique enough to be considered creative.

To illustrate the point, if I were to write a book of poetry, all in the syntax of Java interfaces, then certainly I would have copyright on this book. The use of a programming language has no special exceptions in the law, nor does using a declarative subset of the programming language. The article makes a mistake analoguos to assuming that since it is possible to copyright a book of poems, and poems are made out of letters, it must be possible to copyright the alphabet, and that is madness!

It is unclear to me whether the Java APIs that Google picked up for Android (which are a rather big chunk of work, but is in many parts somewhat simplistic utility classes) should be copyrightable, but it is pretty clear that APIs can be copyrightable as things stand. It is easy enough to imagine cases where they are sufficiently creative to be distinctive works, especially in languages with rich data modelling. APIs need a legal exception for it to be otherwise, copyright law does not exhaustively enumerate what the medium for copyrightable works may be.

Reply Score: 3