Reply to post: Re: Java property of Oracle

Oracle v Google: Big Red wants $9.3bn in Java copyright damages

Nigel 11

Re: Java property of Oracle

Not all books are copyrightable in all aspects. Books which implement well-known "APIs" are not copyrightable in respect of the patterns commonly established by the API.

Tor example, anyone can publish a calendar with one month per page, with months and days having the canonical names in your local language, with seven columns representing the days of the week, with the week-numbers, the public holidays and the phases of the moon marked, and so on. These details will be (and must be) the same in every competitor's calendar.

All that stuff is the API for a scheduling entity called a "Year".

This has also been thrashed out in other areas of human endeavour. For example, there is one and only one pattern of pipes and brackets and holes of particular heights and diameters that allows an exhaust pipe to fit any particular model of car. Copying that pattern in all details is necessary in order that a replacement exhaust pipe can be fitted to that car. The courts have established that auto manufacturers should not have a monopoly on the supply of spare exhausts by virtue of copyright over the external details (the Car to Exhaust API). They retain copyright on the internal design of their design of exhaust system, because there exists a near-infinity of designs all of which can perform the same function, and competitors can and should design their own internals.

I had hoped that the eventual demise of Caldera's claims over the Unix API was the end for lawyers claiming copyright over software APIs. Sadly, it seems not to have been.

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