[License-discuss] [License-review] Copyright on APIs

Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz pe.schmitz at googlemail.com
Sat Jun 29 20:58:30 UTC 2019

As far the European law could be applicable, I just confirm that, for the
purpose of interoperability between several components and when you are the
legitimate owner or the legitimate licensee of these components, there is a
copyright exception regarding their APIs. APIs escape to copyright ,
meaning also that no license may restrict their reproduction as soon the
aim is to make the various components working together. By the way,
regarding linking, this invalidates also the theory of strong copyleft, in
my opinion.
All the best,

Le sam. 29 juin 2019 à 15:08, Pamela Chestek <pamela at chesteklegal.com> a
écrit :

> On 6/28/19 11:40 PM, Bruce Perens via License-discuss wrote:
> *Until now, the principle of copyleft has only been applied to literal
>> code, not APIs. The license submitter’s proposal is for a copyleft effect
>> that would apply to new implementations of the API even when the underlying
>> has been written from
>> scratch. http://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-review_lists.opensource.org/2019-April/004056.html
>> <http://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-review_lists.opensource.org/2019-April/004056.html>.
>> The license also makes this extension even if the legal system would not
>> extend copyright (and therefore copyleft) so far. During the license-review
>> process some commentators objected to this extension of the copyleft
>> principle this far. However, the license review committee does not believe
>> that there was sufficient discussion representing all points of view on
>> the license-review list and so does not reject the license for this reason.
>> The license submitter should also be aware that the OSI was a signatory on
>> a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court advocating against the
>> copyrightability of APIs. APIs are also known to be outside the scope of
>> copyright under European law. We are consequently uncomfortable endorsing
>> an application of copyright law to APIs in any form without further
>> discussion.*
> The successful application of copyright to APIs would be a disaster for
> Open Source software, in that we would no longer be able to create Open
> versions of existing APIs or languages. Consider that the GNU C compiler is
> the bootstrap tool of Open Source. Now, consider what would have happened
> if copyright protection had prevented independent implementations of the C
> language.
> So, it's a bad idea for us to in any way accept the application of API
> copyright today.
> If we actually *get *API copyrights enforced against us broadly, we would
> obviously have to change our strategy. But until then, we shouldn't go
> there.
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Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz
pe.schmitz at googlemail.com
tel. + 32 478 50 40 65
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