Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SCOTUS needs to take major case on API interoperability (and the java language)

The federal circuit in Washington DC (the appeals circuit for the District of Columbia), in its infinite pretense of wisdom on technology, has recently ruled that “application program interfaces” (or “API’”) are protected by copyright.  The problem surface when Google used the “characteristics of functions” from Sun’s java programming language (and its many “methods” from basic algebra), believing it was doing what Borland had done years before with respect to Lotus.  The actual opinion is on Finnegan, here

Timothy B. Lee has a major op-ed on Vox, in which he argues that this is a potentially existential case that can affect future consumers, particularly of mobile devices or of Apple (as opposed to PC and Microsoft) products, as well as the “free services” that companies like Google still find it profitable to offer.  The link for the story is here.  The case is Google v. Oracle America. Lee, and others, argue that the Supreme Court needs to take this case. 

Copyhype has another account of the problem here
Java isn't the only language with "methods" that have "characteristics".  Consider C++ and C#.  

Public Knowledge has an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on the case here
An d Electronic Frontier Foundation has a similar brief, Nov 7. 2014, here

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