Copyright

Oracle v. Google In a Nutshell

by Lee Gesmer on December 6, 2019

Oracle v. Google In a Nutshell

Oracle’s copyright case against Google has dragged on for nine years. The case has generated multiple federal district court trials and appellate decisions. Hundreds of thousands of words have been written on the case. Academic careers have been built on it (OK, I’m exaggerating, but not by much).

Now that the case is before the Supreme Court a new, even larger audience wants to understand it. However, few people want to struggle through the lengthy court decisions or law review articles.

Here is my summary of the issues in the case in a nutshell. Almost all jargon and many details omitted. 

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First Issue – copyrightability. Oracle owns the Java programming language. Part of Java is an application programming interface (“the Java API”). These are pre-written programs that allow programmers to perform common programming tasks. When Google built its Android smartphone operating system it copied verbatim a significant portion (over 11,000 lines) of the Java API.Read the full article

A Few Observations From the Ninth Circuit En Banc Argument in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin

I have a few observations on the Ninth Circuit September 23, 2019 en banc hearing in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin. Video of the oral argument is embedded at the bottom of this post, and the transcriptions below are mine – I’ve left out a few words here and there to make this easier to read, but I didn’t leave out anything material.

Did Skidmore’s Attorney Give Away the Case?

Quite possibly.

Here are the key excerpts from the oral argument. (I’m labeling all of the judges’ questions as simply “judge,” but the questions were posed by different judges):

Judge: Are you conceding today that if you are confined to the deposit copy your copyright claims are not viable?

Skidmore Counsel: I think that it is very difficult for plaintiff to win based on the deposit copy since it’s such an inaccurate transcription of the composition ….

Judge: Is that a “yes”?

Read the full article
Copyright Office Backs Led Zeppelin In Ninth Circuit En Banc Appeal

Update (9/25/19): A Few Observations From the Ninth Circuit En Banc Argument in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin (link)

The appeal in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin is scheduled to be reargued before an en banc Ninth Circuit appeals court panel on September 23, 2019 (watch it live online here), and the U.S. Copyright Office has taken the unusual step of submitting an amicus brief in support of Led Zeppelin.

This important copyright case is discussed in my October 2018 post, Led Zeppelin, Spirit and a Bustle at the Ninth Circuit, so I won’t review the background in detail here. The works at issue are Spirit’s 1968 song Taurus and the opening section of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. A Ninth Circuit panel reversed the jury’s verdict (verdict here) in favor of Led Zeppelin and sent the case back for retrial based on errors in the jury instructions.Read the full article

Copyright Infringement? Peloton Punches Back With Antitrust

[This post was updated in September 2019:  “Contract, Combination or Conspiracy” – Can Peloton’s Lawsuit Survive the Music Publishers’ Motion to Dismiss?]

Can a trade association negotiate sales or licenses on behalf of its members? Can it tell members, “don’t negotiate individually with a specific purchaser, and if you are already in negotiations with that purchaser cut them off and let us negotiate on behalf of you and other members”? At what point does this conduct become an antitrust violation? 

These are the issues raised in a lawsuit between Peloton Interactive, Inc. on the one hand, and a group of music publishers and the National Music Publishers Association, Inc. (NMPA) on the other.

Peloton and Music Licensing. Peloton sells high-end, in-home stationary bicycles. An important feature of Peloton’s service is music-backed, instructor-led workout classes streamed to users via a built-in video screen. Some of these classes are broadcast live, and many are recorded and accessed on-demand.Read the full article