Regular readers will recall that I cited a trademark case involving Booking.com and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as the matter of the moment, the case that was undoubtedly from of mind for every legal observer and pundit, the one that would shape the very future of these United States and our conception of ourselves as a civil society within something like democratic governance. And as loathe as I am to admit it, I was wrong. There is of course a monumental case awaiting the court's ruling, one that will actually have far-reaching impact, with consequences resounding throughout halls of power in the land, and I'm ashamed to say that I somehow missed it.
Of course I'm referring to the long-simmering copyright battle between Google and Oracle, which is now winding its way in front of the Supreme Court. After years of legal wrangling and decisions for both sides, the battle is pitched for its denouement in front of the highest court. For those uninitiated in the events of the case to date, the crux of the matter is a determination on copyright for application program interface (API) code, that which allows our many programs and apps to communicate and work together as needed. Oracle's contention is that APIs should be subject to copyright and require a licence, and has accused Google of stealing code from Java (an Oracle property) to build its Android operating system.
Google, of course, insists that it did no such thing, claiming that the Android OS was built upon its own iteration. Additionally, it's contending that rulings in favor of Oracle and copyright on APIs would serve as a significant detriment to the software industry, a position that has earned the support of EFF and Mozilla, strange bedfellows with Google to be sure.
Now the case should at least have a final disposition with the Supreme Court's ruling, which at the very least should leave both happy that the fight is over, regardless of the outcome. Still, the battle raises important questions not just about copyright and technology and the need of innovators to stand on the shoulders of others to make advances; now that we live in the age of "OK Boomer", there's also the very real question about leaving matters of such import up to a body that, charitably, has seen many a year between them. Is copyright law equipped to deal with the rapidly changing, technology-driven world, and more importantly, are our jurists?