copyrightable APIs? (was RE: namespace protection compatiblewit

phil hunt philh at
Mon Apr 23 13:53:55 UTC 2001

On Sun, 22 Apr 2001, Angelo Schneider wrote: 
> phil hunt wrote:
> > 
> > On Fri, 20 Apr 2001, Angelo Schneider wrote:
> > > Hi!
> > >
> > > In Europe APIs are not "copyright able".
> > > No idea about the US.
> > >
> > > However if you publich them in a book, the book of course is
> > > copyrighted.
> > > However you can not prevent anyone to write a software against a given
> > > API.
> > > Same is true for data formats. (In Europe dataformats e.g. a flat file
> > > format for a word processor are not copyright able)
> > 
> > This will change under the new EU copyright law, where it will be illegal
> > to decrypt any encrypted file format (e.g. DVD) without the copyright
> > holder's permission.
> > 
> Thats a misunderstanding.
> Just for simplicity lets talk about MS Word.
> The file format is proprietary.
> I do not know it. However I'm free to analyze Word files and discover
> it.
> I'm free to write Word files after I have discovered how they look like.
> Now you have two possibilities:
> Encrypt the whole word file -> decryption is illegal if the decrypter
> has to asume the file contains private data(right of private speech is
> broken).

The EU copyright directive says *nothing* AFAIK about private speech,
or rights thereto. 

> Encrypt the content of the file BEFORE you write it in Word format (e.g.
> by keeping the paragraph structure and encrypting each paragraph) ->
> decryption is covered by the new law and considered illegal (the law has
> not passed the houses so far).

The EU copyright directive (which you are right isn't law yet) makes it
illegal to circumvent a technological measure. A technological measure 
includes any encryption put on a file.

> Both points don't touch the fact that the API or the format it self is
> not copyrightable, how should one be able to WRITE a DVD then?

My understanding is that it is illegal to write an encoded DVD in the
USA without the permission of the DVD-CCA. 

***** Phil Hunt ***** 
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