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APIs: A Strategy Guide by Dan Woods, Greg Brail, Daniel Jacobson

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Chapter 7. Legal Considerations for Your API Strategy

There are two major types of legal considerations when developing an API: What are your rights for distributing the content to others and what are the rights that you want to grant to others who want to consume from your API? The former question is associated with legal rights and contractual relationships between your company and others. The latter is typically handled through direct contracts with partners or Terms of Use contracts for the public.

Particularly for content-related APIs, the rights and legal considerations for distributing content must be considered before developing your API. Before starting, here are some fundamental questions to answer:

  • What rights do you have to the content that you provide in the API?

  • What rights can you or do you want to grant the consumers of the API?

  • Are different levels of access needed for different API audiences?

  • Have all the legal considerations been taken into account? If not, a “soft launch” or beta period may be necessary, amounting to private testing of rights scenarios.

  • Are you taking into account other parts of the organization or systems that could impact the rights management for the API?

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