“That’s going to be a big comfort for a lot of the companies that are trying to start up and be compatible with their competitors,” said Charles Duan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a think tank that advocates free markets and limited government.
Oracle said that Google “stole Java and spent a decade litigating as only a monopolist can.” (These companies do not like each other at all.)
What are the potential repercussions?
Duan and other experts I spoke with said they were very excited that the justices backed a broad view of the legal right to fair use. That’s the concept that if you excerpt words or images belonging to others and add enough of your own creativity, you don’t need to get their permission or pay them.
But determining whether something falls under the fair use exception can be complicated, and even feel subjective. This month, a court ruled that an image of Prince made by Andy Warhol was not fair use of a photograph.
Justice Breyer wrote that when considering whether fair use applies, courts shouldn’t look at only technical questions about the two parties involved in the case but think big about whether the copying brings a benefit to society.
Kendra Albert, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, told me that the decision could lead to more legal protections for artists, people who create fan fiction and a group that Albert represents that archives old software such as past editions of Microsoft Excel.
Technology is basically all legal fights.
I want to leave you with a point that I discussed with Mark Lemley, a copyright and antitrust professor at Stanford Law School.