Reflecting on Oracle vs Google

Wendell Santos
May. 10 2014, 07:15PM EDT

API Commons founder and 3scale CEO Steven Willmott takes a look beyond what the Oracle vs Google decision means for those companies, instead focusing on the confusion that will result for developers and what can be done about it. The confusion centers around the lack of clarity over how complex an API must be to warrrant copyright protection or how similar must a design be before it is too similar to an existing design. This confusion may stifle innovation simply because of the fear of litigation.

This ruling may be a slippery slope, today a large and complex API is afforded copyright protection. Tomorrow, might that logic be applied to smaller and smaller snippets of an API's design? The danger then becomes that best practices in design are no longer able to be propogated.

As a first step Willmott promotes the API Commons as a place for those who wish to explicitly declare their API design as available for reuse. Further he proposes the API community to responsibly police themselves offering the following guidelines as a starting point "Call out and Rebuff Outright Copying of APIs without permission, Call out and Rebuff attacks based on trivial copyright claims, Genuinely reward openness"

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