Supreme Court considers software copyrights

A historic, multibillion-dollar lawsuit between Oracle and Google may come down to the jumbled attempts on Wednesday by eight Supreme Court justices to find an appropriate analogy to describe common computer code.



a large building: The U.S. Supreme Court stands on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. This week Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, will begin meeting with Senators as she seeks to be confirmed before the presidential election. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)


© Al Drago/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court stands on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. This week Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, will begin meeting with Senators as she seeks to be confirmed before the presidential election. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

From grocery stores to restaurant menus to QWERTY keyboards, the nation’s most esteemed jurists applied metaphor after metaphor to try to understand whether Google’s decision a decade ago to re-use software initially created by Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems violated copyright law.

Loading...

Load Error

The rapid-fire string of analogies, along with the wide range of justices’ questions, left the case’s fate in doubt. The outcome could determine the future of software development in the United States — and, by extension, the future of a world that’s increasingly dominated by digital services and technology.

The law treats computer programs as generally copyrightable. But the type of code at issue in this case is not, Google argued, because it involves little creative expression and is simply invoked by developers as a kind of shorthand in their code to refer to much longer snippets of other instructions.

These helper programs, known as software interfaces, application programming interfaces or APIs, are a ubiquitous feature of today’s networked digital economy, where different apps need to be able to work together and share information. Oracle asserts that this type of code, at least as created by Sun Microsystems, is nevertheless an expressive work that is eligible for copyright protections.

For an hour and a half, the justices asked why Google had

Twitter Considers Changing Misinformation Labels

Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Report is reassessing how its misinformation labels appear and reach users, the microblogging site’s head of site integrity told a news service.

The San Francisco social-media company currently attaches small blue notices to false tweets.

It is assessing how to make these signals more “overt” and “direct,” Twitter’s Yoel Roth told Reuters.

Roth made no mention of whether the changes would be implemented before the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

The changes will include testing a reddish-magenta color that is more visible, Roth told the news service.

Twitter reduces the reach of tweets that it labels for false content by limiting their visibility and not recommending them in search results, Reuters reported.

Feedback from users tells the company that they want to know whether an account has been repeatedly labeled, Roth said. Twitter will consider whether to flag users who constantly post false information, he said.

Twitter said it had labeled thousands of posts, including some tweets by President Donald Trump.

Since first labeling Trump in May, Twitter put gray warning overlays over 10 of the president’s tweets.

In May, Twitter began labeling fabricated media, expanding its labels to coronavirus misinformation, misleading tweets about elections, and civic processes.

Twitter has been criticized for its transparency regarding its interventions, according to Reuters. The company doesn’t keep public lists of when it applied labels or disclose data that would allow outsiders to assess how those labels affect the spread of a tweet or its reactions.

The company consults with partners, including election officials, on its labeling.

In September, the social-media company said it would label or remove tweets claiming election victory before the results were confirmed.