In September, the animal rights group PETA filed a lawsuit against photographer David Slater, arguing that the monkey who took a series of viral selfies with Slater’s camera in 2011 should be the rightful copyright owner. If you thought that was strange, get this: the legal battle has now evolved into a dispute over the pictured monkey’s identity and gender.But it gets better. The defense counsel then submitted a motion to dismiss the complaint. The motion began:
A monkey, an animal-rights organization and a primatologist walk into federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey’s claimed copyright. What seems like the setup for a punchline is really happening. It should not be happening…. [D]ismissal of this action is required for lack of standing and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law – at least not in the Ninth Circuit.
Generally speaking, APIs are specifications that allow programs to communicate with each other. So when you type a letter in a word processor, and hit the print command, you are using an API that lets the word processor talk to the printer driver, even though they were written by different people. The brief explains that the freedom to re-implement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in both hardware and software development. It made possible the emergence and success of many robust industries we now take for granted—for example, mainframes, PCs, and workstations/servers—by ensuring that competitors could challenge established players and advance the state of the art.After Google released its Android OS, Oracle sued Google for patent and copyright infringement. A California judge rejected the claim, saying that an API is essentially a "process or method" that allows different computer programs to talk to one another. (Source code, on the other hand, is treated like a literary work and is covered under copyright laws.) A federal circuit appeals court disagreed with the analysis and overturned the decision, instead holding that APIs are copyrightable, upending years of industry practice and sending the tech community into a frenzy. Is this a niche issue? Yes. Is it an important niche issue? Absolutely. From the perspective of a computer scientist or developer, this decision threatens their very ability to create anything new:
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Sr. Contrib Editor