Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fundamental disparities in perception about copyright law among major circuits


Electronic Frontier Foundation has a valuable discussion by Michael Barclay of what can be copyrighted.  In particular, if a content provider has “infinite” choices in arranging subcomponents of an object, is a particular arrangement copyrightable?

In a case involving Yoga, the Ninth Circuit recently said No.  But the Federal Circuit in Washington DC, ruling in a suit against Google by Oracle (that company I remember seeing on the 101 south of San Francisco) about the use of java API’s (Application Program Interfaces) went along with this theory.  And EFF said that the Federal Circuit shouldn’t have gotten the case; it wound up there indirectly because of the Federal Circuit’s hegemony over patent.  The link for the story is here.  The Supreme Court has so far declined to hear the case, requiring Google to make a fair use argument on a future trial on the merits (Verge story). 

What I see in all of these stories is a dangerous idea:  companies try frivolous litigation claims out of what seems desperation because they feel pressured by investors. Again, this makes you wonder about underlying business models, that seem to come under increasing pressure out of common social concerns.

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