Appeals Court Says Java APIs Are Protected by Copyright

Monday May 12th 2014 by Developer.com Staff
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A lower court will decide if Google owes Oracle any monetary damages.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Oracle's Java APIs are protected by copyright laws. The decision reverses an earlier ruling in Oracle's lawsuit against Google, and it opens the door for Oracle to seek monetary damages related to Google's use of Java APIs in Android.

Google hasn't yet said what its next legal step will be, but it declared that the ruling "sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development."

Observers say the decision could be bad for the mobile development industry. Forrester vice president Jeffrey Hammond told InfoWeek, "I am not a lawyer, but from a developer perspective, the idea of copyrighted APIs does nothing but introduce friction and uncertainty into the very integration efforts the developers use APIs to accomplish. Devs will now need to worry about the potential for API lock-in via copyright, as alternative suppliers can't produce like-for-like substitutions without risk. I don't see how this is good for developers as it amps up the fear, uncertainty, and doubt about using third-party services."

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