Should APIs be Copyrighted?

Joe McKendrick considers the question of whether APIs should be allowed to be copyrighted in light of the decision that Oracle's Java APIs may now be granted copyright protection. A key debate is whether this means that developers will find it harder than ever to use APIs as a means to build innovative software or that developers will now be afforded protection for their ideas and work.

Ed Anuff, VP of product strategy at Apigee, states that the copywriting of APIs may cause "...the proliferation of convoluted APIs for no other reason than to avoid the potential of legal exposure."

McKendrick points out that a community such as the API Commons, with the goal of providing developers a place to share their API specifications and license them for reuse, may provide a way to keep APIs open but that for now it remains unclear whether that will be good enough.

Be sure to read the next API Design article: Oracle Wins Appeal Against Google, Can Now Copyright Java APIs

Original Article

Should APIs be copyrighted?