Big News: Supreme Court To Hear Google v. Oracle Case About API And Copyright
from the this-is-important dept
Some big news out of the Supreme Court this morning, as it has agreed to hear the appeal in the never-ending Oracle v. Google lawsuit regarding whether or not copyright applies to APIs (the case is now captioned as Google v. Oracle, since it was Google asking the Supreme Court to hear the appeal). We’ve been covering the case and all its permutations for many years now, and it’s notable that the Supreme Court is going to consider both of the questions that Google petitioned over. Specifically:
1. Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface.
2. Whether, as the jury found, petitioner?s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.
As you may recall, the Supreme Court refused to hear Google’s appeal back in 2015, which was just focused on the first question above, regarding whether or not an API was copyright-eligible. So it’s quite interesting to see that it will now review that question. As you may recall, after the Supreme Court refused to review that point, the case went back to the district court where Google’s use of some of the Java API was deemed to be fair use, which was a funky sort of way for the jury to recognize that there never should have been copyright on the API in the first place.
To me, as I always point out in this case, the key element will be getting the Supreme Court to recognize that an API is not software. Oracle and its supporters keep trying to insist that an API and executable code are one and the same, and I worry that the Supreme Court will not fully understand the differences, though I am sure that there will be compelling amici briefs trying to explain this point to them.
You never can tell how the Supreme Court will come down on these issues. The court has been tragically bad on copyright over the past few decades (with a few exceptions). But it’s also repeatedly smacked down bad rulings from the Federal Circuit, which is where this case is coming from. So perhaps that additional skepticism over CAFC’s nutty interpretation of the law will help them review this issue carefully.