Trump admin sides with Oracle in pivotal Supreme Court copyright case

As two of the world’s most powerful tech giants are set to square off before the Supreme Court, the Trump administration has announced for which side it will be rooting, The Hill reports.

In the case of Google v. Oracle America, the Supreme Court will decide whether application-programming interfaces (APIs) are copyrightable. APIs are the computer codes through which software products can communicate with each other.

Oracle has long alleged that Google unlawfully appropriated its code during the development of the Android operating system.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco and assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Division, Joseph Hunt, have both come down on the side of Oracle, and in an amicus curiae brief filed on Wednesday, they offered their reasons for doing so.

DOJ: Google’s case is “unpersuasive”

“This case presents questions concerning the copyrightability and use of a computer software program,” the brief began.

It went on: “Those issues implicate the expertise and responsibilities of several federal agencies and components.

“[Google’s] policy arguments are unpersuasive,” the amicus filing added, explaining, “Petitioner [Google] has not identified any industry understanding that software ‘interfaces’ are per se uncopyrightable, and concerns about the interaction of copyright and emerging technology do not justify such an atextual rule.”

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda also weighed in on his company’s counterargument Wednesday, stating: “A remarkable range of consumers, developers, computer scientists, and businesses agree that open software interfaces promote innovation and that no single company should be able to monopolize creativity by blocking software tools from working together.

“Openness and interoperability have helped developers create a variety of new products that consumers use to communicate, work, and play across different platforms,” Castaneda contended.

Oral arguments forthcoming

As The Hill pointed out, the DOJ’s current stance on the case is essentially in line with that held by the Obama administration, though in 2015, Obama’s Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to decline to hear the case.

The suit between Google and Oracle has dragged on for roughly a decade, with the initial filing in the suit dating back to 2010.

The Supreme Court announced in December that it would indeed take up the case, and oral arguments are scheduled to be heard in March.

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