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Google vs. Oracle and API Copyrights

May 27, 2016

There was some interesting news on the API copyright front yesterday, related to Oracle's lawsuit against Google over Google's cloning of Sun's (now Oracle's) Java API: Google won its fair use defense at the trial level, where it argued that its cloning of the Java API was fair use because it increased innovation.

The fact that Java was also available as open source and that Sun approved of Google making unlicensed clones of the Java API were important aspects of the fair use decision.

This doesn't change the earlier ruling in this case, which held that APIs are copyrightable. It simply means that if a copyright in an API is infringed, the infringer may have a valid excuse to avoid legal liability.

In this webcast replay, our head of product strategy Ed Anuff and I discussed the ramifications of this legal battle. While our discussion focuses on the Supreme Court upholding a lower court's ruling that the Java API is protected by copyright, it highlights several important facets of what developers and IT and business leaders need to know when they build or use APIs. 

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