Statement on Federal Appeals Court Decision on Fair Use

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java software to create the Android operating system wasn’t protected under copyright law as fair use. The case was sent back to a federal district court to determine how much Google owes Oracle.

The following can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:

“This is a terrible decision for startups and tech innovators everywhere. Software interoperability is critical to startup growth, allowing small developers to create new tools and services that work alongside established systems without having to reinvent the wheel. The Federal Circuit’s rejection of the lower court’s fair use finding is a huge setback for commonsense principles of openness and creative reuse. Congress and the courts have created a deliberate balance between maintaining a competitive marketplace and protecting software copyrights. This decision threatens to upend that balance, limiting opportunities for innovators to build new interoperable products, undermining the viability of many software startups and diminishing the creativity that copyright law is meant to promote.”