Mongo v Amazon Legal Standing…

As things have it, the issue of stealing APIs has already been determined in one Federal Circuit. Google usurped Orwcle’s Java APIs. Did not end up so good for Google.

There are other districts and perhaps other differences but this will give mighty Amazon and Microsoft real reason to not poach 4.0 and later APIs.

The above link talks in more detail about the strong legal standing that Mongo appears to have in this API issue. I doubt very much that what Amazon is doing can be considered “fair use” given they are doing so to make obscene profits. As a good capitalist obscene profits are wonderful, but not when you steal what is not yours.



“the issue of stealing APIs”

You can’t “steal” something that is being given away for free. MongoDB gives away the source code for their own API implementation, in 13 different languages. This is available today, under the permissive Apache License 2.0, not the more restrictive AGPL or SSPL.

In Oracle-v-Google, Google didn’t have any license to copy the API. Google’s defense was it didn’t need any license as the API wasn’t copyrightable. The courts ruled against Google, stating that APIs can be copyrighted.

Just to be clear:

  • Google copied an unlicensed API.
  • Amazon copied a licensed API.

Not a single bit of evidence has been presented that Amazon is not following the valid license that MDB released their own source code under. “Obscene profits” doesn’t invalidate the license Amazon is using.
Apache License 2.0
A permissive license whose main conditions require preservation of copyright and license notices. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights.


I never said it was illegal to appropriate the 3.6 APIs. What Insaid is there may be a case there. There is certainly a strong case if they tried the same w 4.0 APIs.


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There is certainly a strong case if they tried the same w 4.0 APIs.

Certainly not. MDB has already updated nine (a) of their drivers to support the 4.0 API. These are the drivers released under the Apache License 2.0. Anyone is free to use, modify & distribute the code for the 4.0 API. On MDB’s own gibhub account (b), you can see the license MDB used for the API driver.

There is zero case here for MDB. Amazon has followed the rules as set out by MDB.

(a) -
(b) -…


The Java APIs were open source and free as well. “Free” is not free.

Please read the Oracle v Google case I linked to. Then have whatever legal interpretation you want. Google’s use of “free” APIs for commercial purposes has proven not to be so free.


TLDR version - “Free” code is only free if the conditions of the license are followed. Google copied 11,500 lines of code (*) from Java without following the GPL license. Amazon is following the Apache License 2.0 and is allowed to use the “free” code.

The Java APIs were open source and free as well. “Free” is not free.

There are many different types of open source licenses. Open Source typically licenses the code, at no cost (“free”), if, and only if, you follow the terms of the license. For example, the MIT License only requires the copyright notice to appear in any derivative software. The GPL is more restrictive, requiring any shipped derivatives to also be released under the GPL. The AGPL and SSPL are even more restrictive.

The important issue here, for MDB v Amazon, is that Amazon is using the “free” code under the released Apache License. Again, the code is “free” because Amazon is following the terms of the license. Google didn’t want to follow the GPL, so the code wasn’t “free” for them. Google tried to argue it didn’t need a license, as it was Fair Use, but the Court decided otherwise.

Here’s my best effort at distilling the issues down:

  1. OpenJDK was released under GPL v2.
  2. GPL is viral, any shipped derivative code must also be GPL.
  3. Google wanted Android to run Java code (increasing developer acceptance).
  4. Google didn’t want Android released under GLP v2.
  5. Google made an almost clean room reimplementation of Java, to avoid GPL
  6. Google did copy 11,500 lines from Java’s API (*)
  7. Google tried to argue the lines copied fell under fair use
  8. Court eventually found that Fair Use didn’t apply, and Google violated Oracle’s copyright.

A. MongoDBs drivers are released under Apache License 2.0
B. Apache License is not viral
C. Amazon can use code from the drivers without being forced to release their own code.
D. There is no interpretation of the Apache License that would put Amazon in violation.

(*) “It is undisputed that Google copied verbatim the declaring code of the 37 Java API packages 11,500 lines of Oracle’s copyrighted code. It also copied the SSO of the Java API packages. (Decision p.10)”,_Inc._v._Goog….