How the Supreme Court saved the software industry from API copyrights

A lot of happy developers out there in the world today.

Enlarge / A lot of happy developers out there in the world today. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Google’s and Oracle’s argument before the Supreme Court last October left opponents of API copyrights extremely nervous. For the previous decade, Google had been arguing in lower courts that it didn’t infringe copyright law when it re-implemented Java for use in Android. Google had lost—twice—at the appellate level.

Last October, justices for the nation’s highest court seemed skeptical as well. Not only were they asking Google’s lawyer, Tom Goldstein, a lot of tough questions, a number of them didn’t seem to even understand what an API was. That seemed like a bad sign for Google because the distinction between code that declares an API and code that implements it was fundamental to Google’s argument.

In an interview with Ars just after the oral argument, Cornell legal scholar James Grimmelmann argued that Goldstein had botched the case.

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