Posts Tagged: "Google v. Oracle"

The Year in Copyright: From Google v. Oracle to the Takings Clause

One of the greatest attributes of copyright law is the never-ending abundance of exciting new developments, including those in Congress, the courts, and at the Copyright Office. On the surface, copyright seems straightforward in that it advances the public good by securing property rights to authors. But underneath this simple veneer lies centuries of debate about how best to balance the rights of authors with the public interest, where each distinct issue presents a veritable rabbit hole of metaphysical distinctions. For the copyright connoisseur, keeping up with the latest events can be an exhausting endeavor, though the thrill of solving new puzzles makes it intellectually rewarding. Thankfully, one need not be a member of the copyright cognoscenti to appreciate the major developments in copyright law this past year. From the Supreme Court’s decision in Google v. Oracle to the implementation of a small copyright claims tribunal to attempts to rein in state infringements, 2021 has certainly provided many wonderful events worth highlighting.

Transformation or Derivation: Modern Trends in the Fair Use Doctrine from Software to Photography

“Fair Use” is a flexible defense to claims of copyright infringement. It is a doctrine that evolves as technology and the way in which people use copyrighted works advance. As an exception to the general law prohibiting copying others’ works, it permits copying for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as commentary, criticism, teaching, news reporting, scholarship, or research. Naturally, the way courts analyze the “fair use” defense must adapt as technology advances and the way in which creative content is developed evolves. Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a landmark fair use case involving the “copying” of an Application Programming Interface (API).

Why SCOTUS’ Decision to Sidestep Copyrightability in Google v. Oracle is Problematic for Cases Involving Command Codes

On April 5, the U.S. Supreme Court held 6-2 that Google’s copying of 11,500 lines of code from the Java SE Application Programming Interface (API) in creating its Android operating system was a fair use. The ruling ends a decade-long battle between Google and fellow software giant Oracle, which purchased Java developer Sun Microsystems in 2010. It also overturns the Federal Circuit’s 2018 ruling in favor of Oracle, which could have led to a multi-billion dollar award against Google. Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google LLC, 886 F.3d 1179 (Fed. Cir. 2018). A recent decision from a district court in the Western District of Pennsylvania emphasizes the relevance of the Supreme Court decision in Google v. Oracle. While the case predates the Google decision, it brings up some important issues that were sidestepped in the opinion itself but were raised in the arguments presented in briefs and oral arguments for the Google case.

The View from the Court’s 2 Live Crew: Examining the Thomas/Alito Dissent in Google v. Oracle

Most commentators agree that Google v. Oracle is the most important copyright decision of the last 25 years (since Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music). But what if the Court got it wrong?  The Court has not always done well with issues of technology (the Sony v. Universal “Betamax” case being an exception), and the majority decision in Google v. Oracle appears to be more of the same. For many reasons, the powerful dissent from Justices Thomas and Alito may be the better opinion.

The Upshot of Google v. Oracle: An Absurd Ruling Will Lead to Absurd Results

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or so states Newton’s third law of motion. It is safe to say that Newton never met an intellectual property lawyer, and he never had to deal with the whims and fancy of an arbitrary and capricious Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Google v. Oracle, in which the Court ruled that Google’s intentional copying of 11,500 lines of computer code from Oracle was a fair use despite the fact that Google made many tens of billions of dollars in the process, and despite the fact that the record showed that Google consciously chose to copy, rather than independently create, because programmers were already familiar with the 11,500 lines of code they wanted to take.

Stakeholders Speak Out on Google v. Oracle

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that still has many in the intellectual property world reeling—and not just copyright practitioners. The Court found a way to both accept without examination the Federal Circuit’s holding that the declaring code copied by Google was copyrightable and to reverse the Federal Circuit’s ruling in favor of Oracle, explaining that Google met the fair use exception to copyright law. The Court did this in part by asserting that computer programs are different when it comes to copyright protection, and further from “the core of copyright” than other kinds of works.

License to Copy: Your Software Code Isn’t Safe After Google v. Oracle

In characteristic form, the Supreme Court has once again managed to blow it in another intellectual property case. This time, the Justices blessed Google’s copying of Oracle’s code and called it fair use despite the fact that Google copied that portion of the Sun Java API that allowed programmers to use the task-calling system that was most useful to programmers working on applications for mobile devices. In the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Court, the copying of this code was found transformative because Google only used it to circumvent the need to license Java from Oracle with respect to Android smartphones. Of course, that isn’t exactly how the Supreme Court characterized it, but make no mistake, that is what they decided.

Computer Programs are Different, Says SCOTUS in Landmark Ruling that Google’s Use of Oracle’s API Packages Was Fair

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning found Google’s use of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (“API packages”) a fair use as a matter of law, with Justices Thomas and Alito dissenting. The decision reverses a 2018 Federal Circuit ruling in favor of Oracle. Google appealed that decision to the Supreme Court in January 2019, and three attorneys made arguments to the High Court in October 2020: Thomas Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell argued for Google; Joshua Rosenkranz of Orrick argued for Oracle; and Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stuart argued on behalf of the U.S. Government. Although the justices’ questioning at that hearing seemed skeptical of Google’s arguments, it also revealed that the Court wanted to avoid upending industry practices in computer programming.

Google v. Oracle: The High Court Holds the Future of IP in Its Hands

In what many regard as the intellectual property case of the century, the United States Supreme Court has—on October 7, 2020—presided over oral arguments in Google v. Oracle. The decade-long dispute between two of Silicon Valley’s behemoths centers on Google’s unauthorized use of 11,500 lines from Oracle’s Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) declaring code in its Android operating system. Given the global ubiquity of smartphones, roughly three-quarters of which use the Android operating system, the financial stakes have never been higher. As we await the outcome of the October 7 proceedings, there are important questions to contemplate, including the uncertain impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. In particular, can the attorneys for Google convincingly argue that the unauthorized use of the JAVA APIs’ declaring code is justified? It may be justifiable if these particular API packages are not copyrightable. On the other hand, if Google accepts Oracle’s claim of copyright protection, can Google then assert a fair use defense for its use of 11,500 lines of declaring code?  

Google: An Oracle of Wisdom in its Fascinating Submission to the European Commission

On June 2, the European Commission launched a far-reaching consultation as part of its examination of a forthcoming Digital Services Act (DSA), aimed at identifying areas where new rules at the European level might advance the interests of European societies. Part of that examination was specifically aimed at considering the application of ex ante regulation of dominant platforms. To this end, the impact assessment will examine different policy options for the effective ex ante regulatory framework that ensures that online platform ecosystems controlled by large online platforms that benefit from significant network effects remain fair and contestable, in particular in situations where such platforms may act as gatekeepers. I do not intend to address the framing of the consultation here, nor to discuss the potential relative merits and/or drawbacks of ex ante regulations in this area. Perhaps another day. For the moment, I just want to focus on Google’s fascinating response to this request for comments.

‘Merger’ and Acquisition: Google’s Copyright Contortion to Excuse Copying

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on October 7 from Oracle and Google in their long-running Java intellectual property case. The questions raised in Google v. Oracle go to the heart of the scope of copyright protection of all computer programs. I’ve already written about the flaws in Google’s primary argument, which tries to conflate the creative Java code it copied to make its Android mobile operating system more attractive to developers and speed it to market, with the function that code performs once run. Google’s second argument invokes a U.S. copyright law doctrine known as “merger,” which denies copyright to creative works if there’s only one or a very few ways to express a given idea. In those instances, the expression merges with the idea and as we know, ideas aren’t copyrightable. In this case, there are world-famous examples of platforms performing the same functionality as Java with different forms of expression, such as Apple’s and Microsoft’s. So, Google’s argument that it had no choice but to copy Java can only prevail if it can convince the Court to apply the merger doctrine with blinders on.

Will the Supreme Court Provide the Fair Use Clarity that IP Law Needs?

On July 30, IP Watchdog Editor-in-Chief Eileen McDermott reported that, as part of its series on a 1990s copyright modernization bill known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property recently held a hearing relating to what is known as the fair use doctrine – an exemption to copyright law that has long confused innovators and consumers alike. Thankfully, the days of this ill-defined system, which breeds cronyism, not justice, may soon be numbered. As reported in IP Watchdog on August 4 by lawyer and professional lecturer Steven Tepp, the high court will hear Google v. Oracle, a landmark copyright case, in October. Legal experts have labeled it “the copyright case of the century,” and for good reason. Since the case revolves around fair use, it will allow the nine justices to provide judicial clarity over the doctrine the nation’s innovators have desperately needed for decades.   

Google v. Oracle Perspective: Google’s Android ‘Cheat Code’ was to Copy Oracle’s Code

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear the oral argument in the long-running Google v. Oracle software copyright case. At issue is the availability of copyright protection for computer programs and in particular the copyright protection of code in Oracle’s Java platform, which Google admits it copied for its Android operating system without obtaining a license. Google also claims its commercial use of that code in competition with Oracle is protected under copyright law’s fair use doctrine, but that is a subject for another day. If adopted by the Supreme Court, Google’s arguments would undermine the Constitutional purposes and specific Congressional intent in enacting the Copyright Act, and along with them the fundamental incentives for new creative expression in software, a building block of so many consumer and industrial products. To better understand how, it helps to start at the beginning: Apple’s groundbreaking release of the iPhone.

Earth to Google: Here’s Why APIs Need to be Copyrightable

On January 6, 2020, Google submitted its brief in Google v. Oracle, kicking off the Supreme Court case that many are calling the “copyright case of the decade.” The suit pits the search engine platform controlling 93% of the worldwide search market against Oracle, the owner of the ubiquitous Java program, which submitted its response brief last week. After attempting and failing to secure the rights to Java, Google decided to cease negotiating and instead replicated 37 API packages from the copyrighted program, a decision that precipitated the years-long lawsuit. 

Google v. Oracle: An Expansive Fair Use Defense Deters Investment In Original Content

Google v. Oracle America, a case pending before the United States Supreme Court, is a seemingly never-ending battle, since 2010, between two Silicon Valley behemoths. But now that battle may finally be nearing its conclusion. On January 7, the first of the amicus briefs were filed, signaling that both sides are marshaling their arguments for one final push toward the…