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EFF asks the Supremes to step into API row

by on14 January 2020

Stop in the name of tech

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in Google v. Oracle, arguing that APIs are not copyrightable.

The EFF wants the Supremes to rule that functional aspects of Oracle's Java programming language are not copyrightable, and even if they were, employing them to create new computer code falls under fair use protections.

All this is the key to a long-running lawsuit Oracle filed against Google, which claimed that Google's use of certain Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in its Android operating system violated Oracle's copyrights.

If Oracle wins, then a huge chunk of code in the world will suddenly be in violation of Oracle copyrights.

In a brief filed today, EFF argues that the Federal Circuit, in ruling APIs were copyrightable, ignored clear and specific language in the copyright statute that excludes copyright protection for procedures, processes, and methods of operation.

EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry said:  'APIs are not copyrightable. The Federal Circuit's ruling has created a dangerous precedent that will encourage more lawsuits and make innovative software development prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, the Supreme Court can and should fix this mess."

Oral arguments before the US Supreme Court are scheduled for March 2020, and a decision by June.

Last modified on 14 January 2020
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