Friday, November 15, 2019

Supreme Court - Google v. Oracle - Copyright & Fair Use API

Today, the US Supreme Court granted Google's petition to review its copyright case with Oracle involving Google’s use of Oracle's application program interface (API).

Google's petition states two issues: (1) whether copyright protection extends to a software interface; and (2) whether, as the jury found, the petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.

See SCOTUS blog for details.

Google used 37 API packages and 7,000 lines of code to make it easier for Java programmers to write applications for the Android operating system. Given Google's resources, maybe not the best decision given this protracted legal battle.

Many amicus briefs supporting Oracle's APIs are not copyrightable and/or Google is making fair use. On the other hand, the Federal government recommended the Supreme Court deny Google’s petition. Finally, the Federal Circuit held the APIs are copyrightable and Google use is not fair use, but the Supreme Court has a track record of not affirming the Federal Circuit. Some commentators believe this case may be heard in early 2020.

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