Sword of Damocles Hangs Over APIs

Sword of Damocles

What does open source mean in the era of cloud APIs writes Stephen O'Grady (@sogrady).

First, that APIs are increasingly of greater importance than the code that instantiates them. Whether the interface is built for the purposes of being a standard or becomes one accidentally, in cloud environments moving forward decisions are more likely to be made on the basis of API compatibility and other ancillary factors such as networking and storage costs than on the quality of the underlying implementation. Second, that as such all of the complicated machinations over source code and licensing may miss the point and be protecting the wrong asset. For all of the focus from commercial open source organizations on protecting particular features or capabilities – in a market in which “many can likely replicate others’ software in, at most, 1–2 years” – comparatively little attention has been paid to the interface to that software. Lastly, this suggests, as Professor at Stanford Law School Mark Lemley has said, that calling the Google vs Oracle a copyright case of the decade understates its importance. If you believe that APIs are the new standards, nothing less than the future of the industry is at stake. redmonk