Supreme Court Urged to Revisit Landmark API Copyright Case by EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has submitted an Amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of the United States that hopes to overturn a federal court decision reached in May 2014 that deemed the Java API packages were copyrightable. The brief states that May's court ruling poses a disastrous threat to the tech industry, arguing that the freedom to implement and extend APIs has been critical to the history of innovation and competition in both software and hardware industries. 

Google and Oracle's litigation over the Java APIs dates to 2012, when North District California found the Java APIs were not subject to copyright. With the Federal Circuit's disagreement, legal uncertainty has yet again been unleashed within the technology sector. According to EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry, "The Federal Circuit's decision was wrong and dangerous for technological innovation… Excluding APIs from copyright protection has been essential to the development of modern computers and the Internet. The ruling is bad law, and bad policy."

The 77 signatories in favor of the brief include prestigious names within the tech community, such as five Turing Award winners and four National Medal of Technology winners. The EFF's well-researched document illustrates the necessity for open APIs, citing that "uncopyrightable interfaces were essential to the development of modern computers and the internet." Lending credence to the universality of the entire C programming language due to free API standards, the brief aims to illustrate negative industry-wide ramifications to be had if this ruling is to prevail. 

Original Article

Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court to Rule APIs Can’t Be Copyrighted

Bill Doerrfeld I am a consultant that specializes in API economy research & content creation for developer-centric programs. I study Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and related tech and develop content [eBooks, blogs, whitepapers, graphic design] paired with high-impact publishing strategies. I live and work in Seattle, and spend most of my time as Editor in Chief for Nordic APIs, a blog and knowledge center for API providers. For a time I was a Directory Manager & Associate Editor at ProgrammableWeb, and still add new APIs to the directory every now and then. Drop me a line at bill@doerrfeld.io. Let's connect on Twitter at @DoerrfeldBill, or follow me on LinkedIn.

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