The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking for help in explaining to the federal circuit why copyrighting APIs is such a bad idea.
The EFF’s request comes after a victory earlier this year when U.S.District Court Judge William Alsup ruled in the Oracle v. Google case that an API can not be copyrighted. The ruling drew a sigh of relief from the tech community but the victory was short-lived. Oracle has since appealed and now a three-judge panel will decide if Alsup’s ruling should stand.
Alsup was that rare judge who actually learned how to do computer programming. It’s doubtful that the three judges will share such a deep knowledge of how applications work and integrate with APIs. This increases the stakes considerably. The EFF puts it this way when Alsup made his ruling:
Treating APIs as copyrightable would have a profound negative impact on interoperability, and, therefore, innovation. APIs are ubiquitous and fundamental to all kinds of program development. It is safe to say that all software developers use APIs to make their software work with other software.
The EFF needs help from software engineers, developers and those who benefit from APIs.