First published in IPWatchdog.com
The most interesting aspect of the Google v. Oracle case is that the court failed to address the issue of copyrightability, however, given the court’s approach to fair use it is uncertain as to whether this really matters. In short, the decision is likely to come as a big relief for the tech industry, as a decision in favor of Oracle could have made it more difficult to develop interoperable software. In an amicus brief filed with the court, Microsoft argued that the Federal Circuit’s decision that use of the code was not fair use, and could have had “profoundly negative consequences for the computer industry, which according to Microsoft depends on a robust fair use doctrine to ensure that software from different vendors will work well together.” In addition to a victory for at least one segment of the tech industry, the Supreme Court supported a broad view of the right to fair use, primarily on the ground that Google had made transformative use of Oracle’s code and offers guidance as to what constitutes transformative use under the fair use doctrine. The decision also may call into question the very recent 2nd Circuit decision in The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, which qualified what it means to be transformative under the first fair use factor.