Knowledge & News

Landmark USSC decision in Google LLC v Oracle AM Inc. clarifies the law of fair use in software contexts

7 April 2021

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Google copying lines of declaring code from Oracle's Java SE API program constituted fair use under US copyright law.  The Supreme Court found Google’s use transformative and fair.  The decade-long software case ended with a 6 -2 decision by the Supreme Court, reversing the prior Federal Circuit’s decision on fair use.  Noteworthy, the court “assumed” copyright protected Oracle’s Java SE API “for argument’s sake”, leaving for another day issues relating to the subsistence and scope of copyright protection in lines of declaring code that enable ‘shortcuts for programmers’ to the organizational system adopted by API developers.  A more fulsome analysis, including the possible implications at Canadian law, will follow.  

Authors

Sebastian Beck-Watt

Sebastian Beck-Watt Associate Toronto (Canada) Canadian Trademark Agent, Barrister and Solicitor

Catherine Lovrics

Catherine Lovrics Partner Toronto (Canada) Canadian Trademark Agent, Barrister and Solicitor

Dian P. Thompson

Dian P. Thompson Associate Toronto (Canada) Barrister and Solicitor

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