copyrightable APIs? (was RE: namespace protection compatiblewit

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Sat Apr 21 16:48:22 UTC 2001

On Fri, 20 Apr 2001, Lawrence E. Rosen wrote:
> Even if a company were to argue successfully that its API is *both*
> expressive and substantive, and thus protectible as copyrightable subject
> matter, I would argue that access to the API for the purpose of preparing
> independent (compatible or incompatible) software, even including making
> copies, is still allowed under the fair use provisions of the copyright act.
> As the court held in Sega v. Accolade, 977 F.2d 1510, 1521-1524 (9th Cir.
> 1992), in analyzing the four factors justifying a fair use defense:

Compelling.  If not "ironclad", this does appear to be the decision I was
looking to be able to cite regarding the enforceability of copyright of an
API over implementations.  Thanks Larry; I'm now done with this topic.  =)


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