Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:30 PM, Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Shriram Center for Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering Room 104

A Fight over the Law of Software APIs, and other war stories from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Mitch Stoltz
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Over the past four years, a federal appeals court has upended a basic assumption about software: that while software can be covered by copyright law, software interfaces cannot. The court ruled that Google’s re-implementation of Java APIs infringed Oracle’s Java copyrights. Now, the Supreme Court will weigh in. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has argued at each stage of the case that copyright in APIs threatens innovation, especially by smaller players. This is part of EFF’s work promoting the freedom to tinker, innovate, and research, especially outside the walls of major corporations—work that has also included challenges to overbroad computer crime and “anti-circumvention” laws.


To access the live webcast of the talk (active at 16:28 of the day of the presentation) and the archived version of the talk, use the URL SU-EE380-20200122. This is a first class reference and can be transmitted by email, Twitter, etc.

A URL referencing a YouTube view of the lecture will be posted HERE a week or so following the presentation.

About the Speaker:

[speaker photo] Mitch Stoltz is a Senior Staff Attorney at EFF. Mitch focuses on copyright, trademark, antitrust, telecommunications, and free speech. He has worked for years to fight the use of copyright as a tool for censorship, and to keep the Internet open for creativity and innovation from far and wide. His recent projects include formulating new approaches to antitrust and competition policy in Internet industries, litigation on the copyright status of mandatory safety codes, and cases on Internet TV and radio. Mitch also counsels clients on the use of open licenses for software and media.

Before joining EFF, Mitch was an associate at Constantine Cannon LLP in Washington DC. Long ago, in an Internet far far away, Mitch was a security engineer at Netscape Communications, where he worked to secure Web browsers against malware and coordinated the security research efforts of hackers on three continents. Mitch has a JD from Boston University School of Law and a BA in Public Policy Analysis and Computer Science from Pomona College.