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EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Intellectual Property — Understanding the SCOTUS Fair Use Decision in Google v. Oracle

Does Google’s Android API infringe Oracle’s copyright in its Java API? That’s the question the Supreme Court was asked to deal with in Google v. Oracle recently. In this episode of the EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Intellectual Property podcast, Mintz IP attorneys Todd B. Buck, PhD and Michael R. Graif dive into the Court’s decision regarding Google’s copying of 11,500 lines of “declaring” code from Oracle’s Java API.

Their informative discussion covers a number of pertinent questions:

  • Software is expressly protected under the Copyright Act insofar as it is a set of instructions that directly or indirectly bring about a certain result. So how is it okay for Google to copy this code?
  • The Supreme Court decided that Google’s copying was fair use without addressing copyrightability. How did that affect the Court’s fair use analysis?
  • Unlike the 2.5 million lines of “implementing code,” which Google rewrote, the “declaring” code that Google copied contained the commands that Java programmers knew from writing programs for laptops and desktops. How can copying code to encourage further development for smartphones be a “transformative” use?
  • Oracle tried and failed to develop a platform for Java programmers to write apps for smartphones. Google succeeded with Android. Does that mean Google’s copying had no “market effect” on Oracle?
  • Is this decision good for start-ups? What about established software providers? What about open source software? How will this ruling impact software programming going forward?​​​​​

Hear all EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS podcasts here.

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Michael Graif