ReCreate Recap: April 9, 2021

Supreme Court Hands Down Decisive Fair Use Victory. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decisive victory for fair use in its 6-2 ruling in the Google v Oracle case this week. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: “To the extent that Google used parts of the Sun Java API to create a new platform that could be readily used by programmers, its use was consistent with that creative “progress” that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself…The uncertain nature of Sun’s ability to compete in Android’s market place, the sources of its lost revenue, and the risk of creativity-related harms to the public, when taken together, convince that this fourth factor—market effects— also weighs in favor of fair use.”

LA Times: SCOTUS Decision Aligned With Public Interest. LA Times columnist Jon Healy explained why the SCOTUS decision is good for the public interest, breaking down what it means for fair use and future innovation. “If the companies that own popular programming languages and platforms can stop people from freely copying and using their APIs, we’ll end up with fewer great services and apps online and fewer ways to use them,” wrote Healey.

Re:Create Says SCOTUS Decision Reaffirms Fair Use. Re:Create Executive Director Joshua Lamel issued a statement about what the decision means for fair use and creativity. “Copyright’s purpose is to promote, not hinder creativity, and the Supreme Court reaffirmed the importance of fair use in finding that balance. It made clear that Oracle’s attempt here would have had a negative impact on the creativity of programmers,” said Lamel. “The court affirms an important point: aggressive, over-enforcement of copyright hinders creativity and goes against the purpose of copyright. Fair use serves as a guard rail against anti-creativity enforcement attempts.”

SCOTUS Decision Leaves Small Developers Free To Innovate. The Washington Post focused on the impact of the decision for smaller companies and developers, quoting R Street’s Charles Duan: “The biggest consequence of the decision is that small companies and developers can feel free to build software that’s compatible with their bigger competitors, without fear that they will be sued for copyright infringement…The main effect of the decision is to lift the copyright cloud.”

SCOTUS Fair Use Decision Is A Win For Startups. Engine’s IP Counsel Abby Rives highlighted the decision’s “win” for startups and developers nationwide: “The Supreme Court has left the doors open to innovators and entrepreneurs using APIs to create interoperability and compatibility between computer programs. With confirmation that such use is fair, startups can more affordably build software without incurring steep licensing costs and facing the constant risk of litigation.”

Analysis Of First SCOTUS Decision On Fair Use In 25 Years. In a blog, Project Disco’s Jonathan Band detailed five key takeaways from the landmark decision. Among his key observations is that the Supreme Court has the capacity to decide complex cases involving technology and that the majority opinion’s explanations of copyright and fair use will guide decisions unrelated to software. For more on the history of the case, visit Project Disco’s resource page.