AUSTIN, January 15, 2020 – On January 13, 2020, Baker Botts filed an amicus brief on behalf of The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPIA) with the U.S. Supreme Court in Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc. (No. 18-956), an important case involving whether copyright protection extends to certain portions of computer software code for application programming interfaces (APIs) and whether use of those portions of code in other computer programs can constitute fair use. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case could have significant implications for the software industry, and it is vital that any decision balance copyright protection with permissible fair use in order to encourage, rather than stifle, innovation in the industry.
AIPLA urges the Supreme Court to hold that the Java API declaring code at issue is not entitled to copyright protection as a “method of operation” under 17 U.S.C. § 102(b), while avoiding any holding that would more broadly limit the copyrightability of software based on functionality. AIPLA also urges the Supreme Court to resolve the inconsistent application of the fair use test in lower courts by reaffirming that fair use is a case-specific analysis and holding that no single fair use factor set forth in 17 U.S.C. § 107 should have greater or lesser weight in all cases.
AIPLA also argues that where a jury renders a general verdict on the fair use of a copyrighted work, that verdict should be accorded deference, given the fact-intensive nature of the case-by-case analysis.
“The result of this case will have a real impact on the software industry,” said Baker Botts’ partner Jennifer Nall. “Baker Botts is honored to be selected by the AIPLA on behalf of its 12,000 members to explain its views on the matter. We believe the AIPLA brief we filed will provide helpful insight to the Court.”
To read the full brief, please click here.
Baker Botts lawyers acting on the case include: Jennifer Nall (Partner, Austin); Aaron Streett (Partner, Houston); David Weaver (Partner, Austin); Jeffrey Han (Senior Associate, Austin); Janice Ta (Senior Associate, Austin).
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