[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Any legal issues when copying an API?

Hi Brian, Henning, Nathanael

thanks for bringing some light into this issue. I feel like I'm not
walking on thin ice and it's worth continuing my work.


On Mon, Nov 17, 2003 at 12:55:13AM -0500, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> >
> >
> >I wonder if there are any legal issues if I took the description
> >of the api and implemented my only library, which would be for
> >my purposes a sufficient replacement.
> >
> "Clean room" reimplementation is legally safe (in most countries, 
> anyway).  For instance, if you take a free program designed to use the 
> library (but which doesn't copy anything from the library), rediscover 
> the library's API by looking at the calls made by the free program, and 
> reimplement the library from that, you're definitely safe.  You're safe 
> looking at the published documentation of the library as well, as long 
> as you don't copy literally from it.
> Interfaces themselves can't be copyrighted; only texts can be 
> copyrighted.  Referencing published works for information is legal as 
> long as you don't copy any text (or only copy uncopyrightable segments 
> of text).  (Because the information is published, it can't be trade 
> secrets.)  Patents are another matter entirely, but it's best not to 
> think too hard about them.  :-/
> >Couldn't I publish my
> >code without running into problems? May a use the header files
> >from the commercial library or at least to the user of my
> >library where to get them?
> >
> You can use *uncopyrightable* portions of the header files.  It might be 
> legally safer not to mess around with the header files, if you can 
> easily reconstruct appropriate "work-alike" headers from safer sources.  
> (After all, your library needs its own headers, and you can't just copy 
> the header file text wholesale.)
> Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer; this is just my rough understanding of 
> things.

  MMK GmbH, Universitaetsstr. 11, 58097 Hagen
  Tel: +2331 840446    Fax: +2331 843920

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: