This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can do this Register here Getting it on weekdays.
on Monday, The Supreme Court said In some cases copying someone else’s computer code was kosher. Given the courage of the Android smartphone system, Google won a decade-long court battle with Oracle.
I explain why the technology industry was relieved of the decision, and may be relevant to artists, writers, and collectors. I also want to say: Why are thorny legal questions considered inappropriate in terms of technology right now?
What was the legal case?
Oracle controls software programming technologies called Java that are the building blocks for many applications and digital services. Google used relatively little Java computer code in its Android operating system, and this made it easier for software experts to create smartphone apps.
in Google vs Oracle America In the case, Google said it was standard practice to copy what is called application programming interfaces or APIs, a set of instructions to ensure that technologies from different companies can work together. Oracle said that Google stole its software and demanded billions of dollars. Each company said that it is trying to save the tech industry from ruin.
This is the complex stuff in which there were lawyers on both sides and justified arguments for analogies – Keep safe, play football books and restaurant menus – To interpret the API. In his Majority opinion On behalf of the six judges, Justice Stephen G. Breyer compared the API to the gas pedal, which tells a car to move faster, and a keyboard that types a letter when you press a specific key.
A big question went unanswered, but it did not matter.
Google has won. However as my colleague Adam Liptek wroteThe Supreme Court previously said it would answer two questions: Can companies like Oracle make copyright APIs, and if so, is Google’s use of them appropriate as an exception to copyright law. The majority only answered yes to the second question.
Two justifications, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., stated that the question is incorrect as to whether the APIs are protected by copyright laws. Justice Thomas wrote that he would have said yes.
Even though the judges left an open question, intellectual property lawyers told me that the decision should be relaxed to companies using APIs. The Supreme Court essentially blessed what Google did as it took the API and changed the software into something new that could benefit all of us.
Many technologists had sided with Google – even those who are not usually fans of the company. They worried that if companies could prevent rivals from using APIs or charge exorbitant prices to use them, it could prevent companies from inventing new products. For him, the decision of the Supreme Court brought relief.
“This is going to be a big comfort for companies that are trying to get started and are compatible with their rivals.” Charles duan, A senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a think tank that advocates free markets and limited government.
Oracle said that Google “stole Java and sued it for only a decade as a monopolist.” (These companies do not like each other Absolutely.)
What are the possible outcomes?
Along with Duan and other experts I said that they were very excited that the legal right to fair use supported a broader view. The concept is that if you take out words or images related to others and embody your own creativity, you do not need to get their permission or pay them.
But determining whether something falls under the fair use exception can be complicated, and may even feel subjective. This month, a court ruled that an image of the prince was created by Andy Warhol Was not fair use Of a picture.
Justice Breyer wrote that when fair use applies, considering that the court should not only pay attention to technical questions about the two parties involved in the case, but take a larger view of whether society by imitating Benefits.
Center albertA clinical instructor at Harvard Law School Cyberwala Clinic, Told me that this decision could give artists more legal protection, People who make fan fiction And a group that shows older software such as earlier versions of the Albert Microsoft Archive.
Technology is basically all legal quarrels.
I want to leave you with a point that I discussed Mark lamley, A copyright and antitrust professor at Stanford Law School.
The technology industry is now flooded with legal questions: how should the First Amendment Apply to social media companiesThe Do the opposing laws need to be rewritten For Big Tech? 25-year-old Internet lawmaker Protect people’s free expression or crush itThe Tech now revolves around laws, not just computer codes.
Before we leave …
An SCOTUS vibrate through social media: Also on Monday, Justice Thomas introduced huge websites such as Facebook Legal protection for policing cannot be found when people say online. Adam Liptak wrote Justice Thomas’s “views on the First Amendment may be silly” but in his opinion “frustration, especially among conservatives, who let private companies decide what the public could read and see.”
A window into the use of a technical superpower: Buzzfeed News Reported People from about 2,000 police departments and other taxpayer-funded agencies have used Clearview AI to conduct approximately 340,000 searches of people’s faces – often without the knowledge of their supervisors or the public.
My colleague Kashmir Hill has written extensively About ClearviewFacial recognition is a technique that some people desperately want and others fear.
When a missed call was a big business: Because mobile phone calls were very expensive in India, many people used to call friends to communicate and get hanged. The rest of the world tells how a company exploited that habit Using missed calls to deliver cricket scores, digital songs even more. This all happened after smartphone data became cheaper in India.
Evan Maniwong, a gymnast at the University of Illinois at Evan, stopped on a vault and then landing His Kovid-19 vaccination card was shown. Please create a public health campaign with their video.
we want to hear from you. Tell us what you think about this newspaper and what you want us to find out. You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don’t already find this newsletter in your inbox, Please sign up here.