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Copyright Alliance Backs Oracle Appeal

The Copyright Alliance—representing TV and online content producers and others—says a district court got it wrong that Google's use of Java programming language in its Android phones was fair use and not copyright violation, as Oracle had contended in suing the search giant, with consequences for the protection of copyrighted content that reaches beyond smart devices.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (Google is a member) at the time (May 2016) celebrated the Google victory as "a step" towards the kind of interoperability that is key to the tech industry.

But in an amicus brief filed Tuesday, the alliance (an Oracle exec is a board member) backed Oracle's appeal of the district court's decision.

"The district court judgment not only undermines well-established law, but significantly also makes it too easy for opportunistic and predatory businesses to take a copyrighted work from one medium, adapt it to another, and claim it is transformative," said alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid, adding: “If the ruling is allowed to stand, we are deeply concerned about the implications for creators and innovators who depend on copyright law to earn a living…"

Among the alliance's key points is that the court made a mistake in ruling that simply "transporting" a work from one medium to another—in this case computers to mobile phones—is "transformative" under the fair use exception to copyright protections.

The alliance says that is particularly problematic for smaller content creators who "who may not have the resources to enter all potential or derivative markets at one time."

As a result, the alliance told the court, "allowing a competitor to use a copyrighted work for the same purpose in a related technology" is a "contravention of the copyright owner’s exclusive right to do so."

It suggests that perversely rewards a secondary user who creates a derivative work quickly by copying the original work, favoring a large competitor—like Google—over a garage startup original creator.

Copyright Alliance members include TV studios and their workers, TV and radio stations, sports leagues, news outlets and many more. Board members include representatives of NBCUniversal, Viacom, Time Warner and the Motion Picture Association of America.

The Oracle appeal was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Not to be confused with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Federal Circuit appeals court specializes in patent and copyright issues.

(Photo via Tori Rector's FlickrImage taken on July 21, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)