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Google v. Oracle: Decoding the Oral Argument in the Supreme Court

Google v. Oracle: Decoding the Oral Argument in the Supreme Court

Please be advised: This event will premiere LIVE on this page at 12:00 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, October 28.

Join Hudson Institute for a discussion on Google v. Oracle, a blockbuster copyright case between two giants in the tech industry that has spanned a decade of litigation. On October 7, 2020, the Supreme Court heard an oral argument in the case. Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Adam Mossoff will moderate a conversation with industry experts Steven Tepp and Tim Wilson to assess the state of the case after the oral argument.

What were the concerns of the Justices in either copyright law or policy? How might they decide the case? What will be the impact on the creative industries and the high-tech industries? The discussion will address these and other questions.

This lawsuit began when Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement after Google copied 11,500 lines of code in Oracle’s Java computer program to use in the launch of Google’s Android smartphone. Google’s defense has been two-fold: first, computer programs like Java are inherently functional and thus not copyrightable, and, second, if Java is protected by copyright law, the copying is legitimate “fair use” given a norm among software programmers to copy code. Oracle maintains that the Copyright Act expressly provides that a “computer program” is copyrightable—and Java is a computer program. Google also copied Java for a commercial purpose—to develop its Android smartphone to compete with the iPhone—and thus it is excluded from the “fair use” defense. This is the first case in decades in which the Supreme Court has been asked to reconsider the fair use defense, and it is the first case ever in which it will directly rule on the copyright ability of computer programs.


Adam Mossoff

Senior Fellow & Chair of the Forum for IP, Hudson Institute

Steven Tepp

President & CEO, Sentinel Worldwide; Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School

Tim Wilson

Director, Patents, SAS Institute

Hudson Experts

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