Public Knowledge Opposes Overbroad Copyrights on Computer Interfaces in Supreme Court Amicus Brief

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Today, Public Knowledge filed an amicus curiae brief in the case Google, Inc. v. Oracle America, Inc. In the brief, Public Knowledge urges the Supreme Court to hear a case on Oracle’s copyright lawsuit over the application programming interface (API) to the Java programming language and system. The case attracted widespread attention last May, when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Oracle could assert a copyright over its API, which consists of a specification of commands for operating the Java system.

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of Public Knowledge's Patent Reform Project:

“This case presents a question of critical importance to every computer and internet user today: whether an API, essentially the way that two programs communicate with each other, can be monopolized and controlled using copyright law. Our brief urges the Supreme Court to ensure that a law intended for art and literature does not interfere with technological innovation by giving Oracle copyright on a set of commands. The Supreme Court should not let incumbents like Oracle place a stranglehold on the next iPhone or Facebook.

“The earlier decision by the Federal Circuit trampled over law, logic, and the public interest to give companies like Oracle extra copyright rewards they do not need. We hope that the Supreme Court agrees to review this case, so that it can restore the balance of copyright law to advance the public interest, just as the Supreme Court did numerous times this year in reversing the Federal Circuit's patent law decisions.”

A decision on whether the Supreme Court will hear this case is expected within the next few months.

A copy of the brief may be viewed here.

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