Eye on Oracle

Aug 22 2011   2:01PM GMT

Oracle vs. Google, and whether APIs are copyrightable

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio


The latest battle in the Oracle vs. Google “lawsuit between behemoths” is over whether application programming interfaces (APIs) should be considered copyrightable.

When Google developed the Android platform, it copied a lot of the Java APIs that Sun – now Oracle – had developed. Google is arguing that those APIs aren’t protected under copyright law, and therefore that the judge should dismiss the lawsuit. In a document that filed on Saturday, Oracle argues otherwise. According to the Oracle motion:

Over a period of many months, Google employees and contractors sat down and duplicated, line by line, the specifications for Oracle’s application programming interfaces (“APIs”) for Java. When they were finished, they had reproduced specifications for 37 APIs from Java’s core libraries that were identical, or nearly identical to Oracle’s, and they had copied those specifications into Android code.

Oracle adds this as well: “Google, in fact, claims copyright protection for its own APIs.”

If the above line is true, it would expose the hypocrisy of Google saying that APIs aren’t copyrightable and yet trying to legally protect its own APIs.

For a more thorough examination of Google’s motion for dismissal and Oracle’s opposition, check out Florian Mueller’s great rundown of Oracle defending the APIs. You can also take a look at the Oracle motion for yourself.

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