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

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Sat Jun 29 22:26:06 UTC 2019

Is this a doctrine, or explicit law?

On Sat, Jun 29, 2019, 13:59 Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz via License-discuss <
license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> wrote:

> 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,
> Patrice-Emmanuel
> 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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