Computer Scientists Speak Out Against Copyrighting of Java APIs

The ongoing copyright battle between Google and Oracle does not just impact the two computer giants. As the case heads before the Federal U.S. Circuit of Appeals, 32 computer scientists and software developers have weighed in on whether copyright law should protect application-programming interfaces (APIs).

Oracle recently appealed last year’s decision that Google did not commit copyright infringement when it copied Oracle’s software code to build the Android mobile operating system. U.S. District Judge William Alsup concluded that the software code was not protected under copyright law as a matter of law, finding that the APIs were a functional part of the Java platform and should be available to others using it.

In the brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a number of well-known computer scientists, including MS-DOS author Tim Paterson and ARPANET developer Larry Roberts, argue that Alsup got it right.

“The freedom to reimplement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in the computer field—both hardware and software,” the brief states.

”Should the court reverse Judge Alsup’s well-reasoned opinion, it will hand Oracle and others the ability to monopolize any and all uses of systems that share their APIs. API creators would have veto power over any developer who wants to create a compatible program,” the brief further argues.

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