Google Defends Against Oracle Copyright Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Since Java interfaces are not subject to copyright, a judge should dismiss infringement claims Oracle has made against the Android operating system, Google said in a new brief.



     The Java-language application programming interfaces (APIs) are “unprotectable methods of operation,” attorney Michael Kwun of Keker & Van Nest argued in the reply brief in support of Google’s motion.
     APIs define the statements developers must use to access the functions in the Java language libraries and are thus methods of operation not subject to copyright, Kwun wrote.
     Google says Oracle repeatedly mischaracterized APIs in its opposed to the motion for summary judgment by saying they “tell” how to use the libraries. In fact, they are “the means by which one uses the libraries,” Google wrote. Oracle was also “wrong” when it said the APIs are a blueprint for the libraries, according to Google.
     “Unlike a blueprint, which states in detail how to build a structure, the APIs merely define the functions that the libraries implement,” Kwun wrote, adding that APIs are more like a building plan, which shows the rooms and other functional requirements but does not describe implementation details.
     Google says Oracle argued that highly functional APIs are complex and therefore must constitute creative expression, but the Supreme Court rejected this “sweat of the brow” approach to copyright protection over 20 years ago in Feist Pubs Inc. v. Rural Tele. Serv. Co.
     “An extensive effort can no more transform methods of operation into copyrightable subject matter than industrious collection can turn facts into creative expression,” Kwun wrote.
     Even if creative expression was used in creating the APIs, that expression does not necessarily “merge into the ideas represented by the APIs,” he added.
     Since APIs are functional, Google said it and other companies can freely implement all of them. “Google’s decision to implement only a subset of the APIs cannot transform those APIs into protectable expression,” Kwun wrote.
     He also argued that any creative expression in the APIs is “unprotectable scenes a faire.” Given the lack of other alternatives, Oracle does not dispute that Google had to adopt the structure and organization of the APIs in order to operate with Java and implement them.
     Google maintains that its APIs represent “fair use” and did not harm Oracle’s market. In fact, Sun Microsystem’s chief technical officer predicted in 2007 that the Android operating system “strapped another set of rockets to the [Java] community’s momentum.” Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010.

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