Thursday, May 03, 2012

OpenWeb 05/04/2012 (a.m.)

  • Excellent legal piece explaining the options and methods of how software programs use licensed and copyrighted third party libraries through an API. Finally, some clear thinking about Google Android and the Oracle Java Law Suit.
    excerpt:Another option for a developer is to do what Google did when it created Android, and create replacement code libraries that are compatible with the existing code libraries, but which are new copyrighted works. Being "compatible" in this context means that the new libraries are called in the same way that the old libraries are--that is, using the same APIs. But the actual copyrighted code that is being called is a new work. As long as the new developer didn't actually copy code from the original libraries, the new libraries are not infringing. It does not infringe on the copyright of a piece of software to create a new piece of software that works the same way; copyright protects the actual expression (lines of code) but not the functionality of a program. The functionality of a program is protected by patent, or not at all.
    In the Oracle/Google case, no one is arguing that code libraries themselves are not copyrightable. Of course they are and this is why the Google/Oracle dispute has no bearing on the enforceability of the GPL. Instead, the argument is about whether the method of using a code library, the APIs, is subject to a copyright that is independent of the copyright of the code itself. If the argument that APIs are not copyrightable prevails, programs that are created by statically-linking GPL'd code libraries will still be considered derivative works of the code libraries and will still have to be released under the GPL.
    Though irrelevant to the enforceability of the GPL, the Oracle/Google dispute is still interesting. Oracle is claiming that Google, by creating compatible, replacement code libraries that are "called" in the same way as Oracle's code libraries (that is, using the same APIs), infringed on some kind of copyright that inheres in the APIs themselves. This means that Oracle is claiming copyright not on the unique creative expression of its code libraries, but on the functionality of the libraries. Oracle is saying that to make a piece of software that is "API-compatible" with another product, without more, constitutes copyright infringement...................

    Tags: OpenWeb, GPL, Oracle-Google, Java-Android

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

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