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February 14, 2013

Oracle to Appeal Ruling for Google in Programming APIs Copyright Fight

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Oracle is taking a trip into federal appeals court to try and revive some of its legal battle with Google (News - Alert).

This week, Oracle filed an appeal with United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in an effort to overturn U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup's May 2012 determination that programming APIs are not subject to copyright protection. In that ruling, the judge ruled that only the code itself—not the "how-to" instructions represented by APIs—may be copyrighted.

"So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API," wrote the judge in his determination.

 “It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. … Duplication of the command structure is necessary for interoperability."

The Court of Justice of the European Union found the same for Google in a suit filed in the EU. Oracle (News - Alert) is not seeking to have the patent infringement suit it had filed against Google and lost revisited.

Oracle has filed the appeal because it says it disagrees that the functional nature of code makes it different from literary text, Information Week is reporting. In its appeal filing, Oracle says, "This notion of software exceptionalism for any code is wrong." And it contends, "Interoperability is irrelevant to copyrightability."

Google, which has the support of open Internet advocacy groups, had declined to comment on Oracle’s appeal.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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