Subject: Implementing an encumbered API (was that AT&T licence thing)
From: Andrew J Bromage <ajb@buzzword.cc.monash.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 16:02:34 +1000

G'day all.

On Fri, Sep 10, 1999 at 05:31:08AM +0000, bruce@perens.com wrote:

> Is there any published documentation on it?

There is one book which has been out for almost ten years.  The book
is copyrighted by the company and this notice appears at the front of
the book:

	[Company] owns the copyrights in the [API], including the list
	of procedures which constitute the interface, and the [API]
	specification and manuals.  These may not be copied without
	[Company]'s permission.

	[Company] will enforce its copyrights and trademark rights.
	However, [Company] does not intend to exclude anyone from
	creating [programs] that call the [API] procedures.  Also,
	[Company] does not intend to exclude anyone from creating
	[implementations of the API calls], provided a separate
	written agreement is entered into with [Company].

	[Company] gives permission for you to copy the [API]
	procedure calls for writing [programs] that use the [API].
	Any program that incorporates any of the [API] procedure calls
	must include the proper copyright notice on each program copy,
	as given in the [spec], available from [Company].

	A no-charge license is available from [Company] for anyone
	who wishes to write [an implementation] that uses the [API]
	procedure calls.  This license must be in writing.

	[Guff about use of the trademark follows.]

The copyright message is:

	The [API] Interface Procedures and [associated protocol] are:
	Copyright 1988, 1989, [Company].  All rights reserved.
	[Trademark] is a registered trademark of [Company].

Interestingly enough, this was in the published version but I can't
find it in the version of the spec that is on the company's web site.

There is another book to be published soon, also written by employees
of the company, which will be on using the API effectively.

(Those who have an interest in the field have probably worked out exactly
which API I'm talking about now.)

> If I can go into a bookstore
> and get a book and learn about the API that way, it's going to be very
> difficult to enforce a copyright on the API that would prevent its
> re-implementation.

One would have thought so.  It looks like they've gone to a lot of
trouble to prevent someone doing that, though.

Cheers,
Andrew Bromage