CCIA to Supremes: Oracle Decisions Threaten 'Permissionless Innovation'

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has told the Supreme Court that to uphold the findings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that Google had infringed Oracle's copyrights would erode permissionless and the interoperability that is a long-standing and vital tenet for tech development. The Federal Circuit deals with copyright issues. 

That came in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court, which back in November agreed to hear the appeal of two decisions that Google's copying of a portion of the Java application API to Android, so programmers could more easily write apps for Android phones, says CCIA, was a violation of copyright.  

Related: Court Says Google Poached Java API's for Android 

CCIA says that if the decisions are not reversed, interoperability would be dealt a blow and there could be a "rebalkanization" of the U.S. technology industries," it said "particularly if incumbent firms refused to license their interfaces. Walled gardens of computing environments could reemerge, taking us back to the 1970s." CCIA sais that would mean higher prices and less innovation.   

“U.S. law has allowed companies to offer competing, interoperable products," said CCIA President Matt Schruers. "This principle of interoperability has been key to our innovation and economic success -- and ironically to Oracle’s success decades ago. It would be unfortunate for the U.S. to erode this framework for permissionless innovation, and give an advantage to companies in countries with more enabling legal frameworks. We look forward to the Court reaffirming that copyright law does not prohibit interoperability." 

CCIA members include Google, Amazon, Netflix, and eBay.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.