Reply to post: APIs vs Copyright

Why Oracle will win its Java copyright case – and why you'll be glad when it does

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

APIs vs Copyright

"He'd instructed the jury to exempt APIs from copyright"

And damn right he should have. An API isn't code - it is a _public_ definition (The 'I' = 'Interface') of how other people's code should interact with yours, or from an alternate point of view, how your code should present its behaviour to the outside world so that other people can write code which will be able to interact with yours.

For example, the Win32 API - which filled a 2" thick book I used to own - describes all of the Windows function calls you can make so that you can write a program which runs on top of Windows without having, or needing, any visibility of any of the source code of Windows itself.

An API definition should be freely usable, and should promote competition between companies or individials to write the best implementation of this definition. If Google wrote their own code to implement Oracle's API then they're not guilty of anything in my view.

An _implementation_ of an API however is where your intellectual property lies. This is very definitely copyrightable. If Google imported blocks of Oracle's Java API implementation, then they should have been nailed for it. I agree its bad for everyone if thats what Google did and got away with it.

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