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EFF Petitions to Repeal API Copyright Decision

  • November 10, 2014
  • By Developer.com Staff

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a petition on behalf of 77 well-known computer scientists asking the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that APIs can be copyrighted. In May, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Court made a controversial ruling in the Oracle v. Google lawsuit which gave Oracle copyright protection on some parts of the Java API. Now Ken Thompson, Bjarne Stroustrup, Bruce Schneier, Guido van Rossum, Ray Kurzweil, Vint Cerf, Alan Kay, Andrew Tridgell and others are formally asking the Supreme Court to reconsider.

"If it is allowed to stand, Oracle and others will have an unprecedented and dangerous power over the future of innovation," the petition said. "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."

It added, "We hope that the Supreme Court will review this case and reverse the Federal Circuit's misguided opinion, which upended decades of industry practice and threatens the basic principles upon which our technology sector was built."

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