ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

ASMP Joins Critical Supreme Court Amicus Brief

By February 25, 2020February 28th, 2020Legal, Strictly Business Blog


ASMP has joined nine other creators’ rights groups in an amicus brief arguing for protections for creators in Google v. Oracle case.

This term the United States Supreme Court is set to hear a long-fought copyright case between Google and Oracle. While these two technology giants are different than the usual types of litigants that ASMP would support, the law at issue here will have a direct impact on all photographers and copyright law in general. The basic claim is that Google’s Android operating system is built on stolen code from the Java software program.

ASMP has joined nine other creators’ rights groups in an amicus brief arguing for protections for creators in this case. You can read the brief here.

This case is extremely important because it will determine the fate of copyright protection for programming and define what exactly “fair use” really is. The last fair use case was 25 years ago (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994)) and has been the law ever since. Typically, computer code has not been considered “copyrightable” because it is not “creative” enough to merit copyright protection. This is Google’s primary argument. They further argue even if Oracle could copyright their “application program interfaces” Google’s use was “fair use.” While it is true that fair use is intended to provide certain protections to use copyrighted works for specific purposes, the Federal Circuit found that Google’s use was not within the parameters of fair use.

Oracle contends that they offer “several licensing options” and other platforms have ethically used that option, while Google expects to use this information for free, simply because they are Google. You can see the parallels between what Google is arguing and what ASMP members face every day.

More broadly than just the importance to the software industry, this case is important to creators because the Supreme Court may finally get to untangle the confusing web that is the fair use analysis. Ideally, the Court would uphold the more “creator friendly” fair use analysis described in the Federal Circuit. It is the hope that the Supreme Court will analyze fair use in a way that assures that creators get “fair return for their labors” while also having the ability to expand upon other copyrighted works.

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