Timothy B. Lee:
The Supreme Court’s eight judges on Wednesday seemed skeptical of Google’s argument that application programming interfaces (APIs) are not protected by copyright law. The High Court heard oral arguments in Google’s decades-long legal battle with Oracle. Oracle claims that Google infringed its Java programming language by re-implementing Java APIs for use by Android app developers.
My gut feeling is that Google is right here – APIs should not be copyrighted – but that they completely failed to make the argument clear.
See also: Miguel de Icaza, Florian Mueller (3, 4).
Readers of this site no doubt know that Oracle’s arguments in the lawsuit against Google, which will be argued in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, could spell disaster for the computer industry by turning the act of implementing an API into a copyright infringement. Back in January, I revealed in an Ars Technica piece that it could even spell disaster for Oracle itself, because Oracle’s cloud storage service implements Amazon’s S3 API. Oracle did not dispute my findings, but shrugged and claimed Amazon had given permission. I was skeptical, but at the time did not have hard evidence to prove the negative that Oracle did not have a license.
I’ve now found evidence why Oracle should be concerned. And more importantly, it shows why every technology company and startup should be concerned Google v. Oracle case.
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