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What's more, similar attempts at aggregating control over APIs have been recognized by developers, the United States, and the European Union as dangerous to the app developer and cloud-computing industries. Copyright protection for declaring code would act as a tax on software development, leaving the public with lower-quality, less innovative software products....
Understanding the extent to which the software industry depends on the free exchange and use of API declaring code is necessary to comprehend the chilling effect that Oracle's position would have on software innovation and development. So they explain APIs and how they work in the industry -- and have worked for 40 years or so. APIs, they say, are the building blocks of software, like Lego® bricks. They can be all kinds, colors and shapes, but one thing they all have, and have to have to be able to put them together, are the bumps and holes that make them fit together, and those bumps and holes only work if they are all the same size. Software is like that too. They need a standard interface so they can fit together.
And your smartphone or other device communicates with the cloud entirely through APIs. APIs are that vital now. Developers have always felt legally free to use APIs, as long as the implementing code was their own. "For example," the brief states, "even Microsoft has re-implemented the UNIX APIs in the 'Interix' subsystem included with its server products." It did the same with WordPerfect, back when WordPerfect was more popular than Microsoft Word. Of course, Linux used UNIX APIs also, as did many other projects. And the Wine project has been re-implementing Microsoft's Windows APIs since 1993, the brief tells the court. This is an accepted business practice. Oracle is trying to extend the reach of copyright law.
This is the only amicus brief attempting to explain the Open Source viewpoint to the court, to help it understand exactly why it matters so much that APIs be available for the cloud. And it lets the court know that Open Source does not need copyright protection for APIs:Rackspace's involvement in both the open source and cloud computing markets lends the Court a unique perspective on the copyright issues raised in this appeal. Open source development is a driving force behind software innovation and fosters the creation of peer-reviewed, higher-quality code. The open source community is a perfect example of why copyright protection for APIs is unnecessary for continued innovation and why the monopoly Oracle seeks would in fact hamper that innovation. Further, the cloud computing market depends heavily on the use of APIs because all cloud functionality is delivered to the end user via APIs. Of course, that may just be why Oracle -- along with Microsoft, EMC, and NetApp, who filed amicus briefs in support of Oracle -- wants to make them proprietary.
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BREAKING: Why the Obama Administrations Actions Against Patent Trolls Should Make a Difference ~ Matt Levy
This is a very big day: the Obama Administration has just entered the fray to help deal with patent trolls, and it's taking steps that have the potential to be a major part of the solution to the patent troll problem.
The early press reports on the Administration's efforts have missed the real story: the President and the Administration are publicly recognizing that the problem with patent trolls stems from the problems with software patents. You cannot deal with patent trolls without dealing with software patents.
The President's Executive action to tighten functional claiming does exactly that. It recognizes that in order to stop issuing bad and overbroad patents that wind up in the hands of patent trolls, we need to specifically address software patent applications.