White House Sides With #Oracle, Tells Supreme Court APIs Are Copyrightable

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Tech

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The Justice Department is weighing in on the hot-button intellectual property dispute between Google and Oracle, telling the Supreme Court that APIs are protected by copyright.

The Obama administration’s position means it is siding with Oracle and a federal appeals court that said application programming interfaces are subject to copyright protections. The high court in January asked for the government’s views on the closely watched case.

The dispute centers on Google copying names, declarations, and header lines of the Java APIs in Android. Oracle filed suit, and in 2012, a San Francisco federal judge sided with Google. The judge ruled that the code in question could not be copyrighted. Oracle prevailed on appeal, however. A federal appeals court ruled that the “declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection.”

Google maintained that the code at issue is not entitled to copyright protection because it constitutes a “method of operation” or “system” that allows programs to communicate with one another.

“That argument is incorrect,” the administration told the justices.

In an amicus brief, computer scientists urged (PDF) the Supreme Court to reverse last year’s appeals court decision. “The Federal Circuit’s decision poses a significant threat to the technology sector and to the public,” they wrote. “If it is allowed to stand, Oracle and others will have an unprecedented and dangerous power over the future of innovation. API creators would have veto rights over any developer who wants to create a compatible program—regardless of whether she copies any literal code from the original API implementation. That, in turn, would upset the settled business practices that have enabled the American computer industry to flourish, and choke off many of the system’s benefits to consumers.”

Full Story @ [arstechnica]

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