Developers Voice Concerns over Court Ruling Upending Use of APIs

January 2019 Survey Report of 200+ US Developers

Developers rely on application programming interfaces (APIs), and have grave concerns about the impact to their own businesses, and the digital economy overall, if the long-standing understanding over the re-use of APIs is disrupted by a court order. The open-source nature of APIs has led them to be used as building blocks for products and services; as a result, APIs are interwoven throughout the digital ecosystem. This has ushered in an era of unprecedented innovation and societal benefits.

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of all developers feel that granting copyrights to APIs, resulting in licensing and other restrictions, would disrupt the app industry; 75% feel it would be a “major” disruption. This according to the latest survey of over 200 developers and coders in the United States conducted by the Developers Alliance. The survey was conducted from January 23rd through February 4th, 2019.

Previous Developers Alliance research estimated $77 billion was at risk just in the home and auto Internet of Things (IoT) industries due to threats to interoperability made possible through the re-use of APIs. The same research estimated that there were 1.7 million active coders using Java, the most popular programming language. Our survey confirms that Java’s use would be severely compromised by a copyright and license fee. This would have a profound consequence on the developer workforce and the businesses that employ them.

Based on the survey results, it’s clear that one of the greatest threats to the ten-plus years of rocketing growth is massive disruption that takes a wrecking ball to the foundations of the digital ecosystem.


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The Developers Alliance is a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. The Alliance promotes the continued growth of the industry and advocates on behalf of their members on public policy and industry issues.  Membership includes a global network of more than 70,000 developers with diverse skills, expertise, and interests; and hundreds of companies that depend on and work with developers.

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