Google argued that APIs are not protectable by copyright. Judge Alsup did not accept the argument:
“Googleâ€™s argument that APIs are unprotectable methods of operation attacks a straw man.
It is not the APIs but rather the specifications for 37 API packages that are accused. Even if Google can show that APIs are methods of operation not subject to copyright protection, that would not defeat Oracleâ€™s infringement claim concerning the accused specifications.”
While the preliminary discussion in his ruling shows Judge Alsup knows a lot about programming, he seems to miss the fact that programming in source code is text-based and one cannot use the APIs without listing them. The compiler/translater needs to know/have available the API so that the syntax, and data structures align properly. He also misses the fact that “Java is free for anyone to use” includes the use of the APIs without which Java is useless, even in “Hello, world!” applications. Come to think of it, Google’s lawyers did not do a very good job of presenting their arguments. Everyone in the room knew Google was right but Google failed to present a logical and complete argument. It’s a fact that Java is free to use and that includes the APIs. No one disputes that. To use the APIs you have to have copies of them in your code.
“Oracleâ€™s opposition brief seems to use the term API to refer to API packages and API package specifications. If this interpretation is correct, then the partiesâ€™ arguments concerning whether â€œAPIsâ€ are methods of operation simply swipe past each other, with each party using the term in a different way. Because the issue is not properly teed up for summary judgment, this order does not decide whether APIs are methods of operation.”
AARRRGGGHHHH! Talking about dancing around the truth. The lawyers really want to make this case expensive. Imagine how much time before a jury will be used to spread these concepts thin enough that a jury can see through them. What a waste of words/time/energy.
At least he does rule that Google is not guilty of violating copyright on the names of the APIs. Why does that concept not penetrate when it comes to names of the variables and structures without which the API is useless? Good luck using those APIs without the names. Sigh… Let’s hope jurors are awake.