CCIA Asks Supreme Court To Hear Case On Whether A Company Can Claim Copyright On Code That Allows Programs To Communicate

BY Heather Greenfield
February 25, 2019

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association has filed an amicus brief today asking the Supreme Court to take up a case on whether copyright may be used to prevent software programs from communicating with one another. The case between Oracle and Google has been going on for nearly a decade. CCIA argues that two Federal Circuit rulings allowing one company to use copyright to block access to this sort of code is contrary to innovation, legal norms and fair use copyright exceptions in trade agreements.

The issue in this case, whether use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is an infringement of copyright law, has major ramifications for the entire technology industry. APIs are important building blocks for all software. For more background on this issue, and CCIA’s briefs over more than 20 years on the issue of the protectability of APIs, fair use, and reverse engineering so that computer software is interoperable, please see CCIA’s information page here.

The following can be attributed to CCIA President and CEO Ed Black:

“Industry has thrived in the U.S. due to permissionless innovation where a newer tech company can use code to make sure their new offering is compatible with other competing products. It’s due to important boundaries on the scope of U.S. copyright law. Even as other countries have  recognized U.S. leadership on this issue, the Federal Circuit threatens to reverse course .

“The principle at stake in this case is one that many older companies like Oracle have relied on for their success. Without appropriately flexible copyright, we would not have a successful tech industry in the U.S.  Even though some companies have grown more powerful over the years, have changed sides, and now seek to block interoperability, the principle CCIA has been fighting for over decades is the same — and vital for the entire industry and our economy.”

For media inquiries, please contact: Heather Greenfield hgreenfield@ccianet.org

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