The API Battle

I think Oracle is a fine database platform, maybe too expensive, but it works. However, I’m not a fan of the company, and I find myself less enamored with them when I read about this case. This the Oracle v Google case, where Google is accused of violating copyright of Java APIs when it build Android.

Essentially Oracle claims that the Java API, the packages, classes, methods, etc. are copyrighted and cannot be used in any other product. I assume this means that if I implemented the Java.SQL class, writing the code in C#, I’d be infringing on Oracle’s work.

Even if I offered my software for free, this could be legal violation and I’d owe Oracle money. Or I’d need to license the API from Oracle. Any guesses on whether that would be inexpensive or prohibitive?

In one sense, I do think that copyright and patent protection should exist. On the other hand, I think some of the applications of the original laws and ideas to the digital world don’t translate well. I certainly think that APIs shouldn’t be protected. These are essentially function names, and while I appreciate the need to copyright words, I don’t think it should go this far.

I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will hear this case, and rule that this isn’t a violation. As someone that works for a software company, and has written software designed to inter-operate with other products, I think this would cause lots of chaos in our industry. I also think we have enough silly licensing and limiting practices in software, and I’d prefer to see less, not more.

Steve Jones

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Editor, SQLServerCentral
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