Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google against Oracle in a copyright fight, while vacating a previous ruling involving former President’s Trump use of Twitter. Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he hoped Parler would eventually return to the App Store, and a national labor board concluded that Amazon had illegally retaliated against two workers by firing them for speaking out against company policies.

A DECISION DECADES IN THE MAKING: The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google in the company’s high-stakes intellectual property fight with Oracle, finding that the search giant’s copying of certain Java lines to develop its Android platform constituted fair use.

In a 6-2 ruling, the justices found that Google’s use of roughly 11,500 lines of code was lawful since the amount was relatively minuscule and because Google programmers used the language as virtual building blocks to develop new and transformative applications.

The court concluded that Oracle cannot claim copyright over these application programming interfaces (APIs), which let different applications communicate.

The battle between Google and Oracle over the use of the code in Android devices has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Read more about the ruling[5]

DISMISSED: On Monday the Supreme Court also vacated a ruling that found that former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden should look to ‘Ostpolitik’ to negotiate with autocrats The Memo: Biden’s bet on taxes Why some Republicans think vaccine passports will backfire on Democrats MORE[7][8][9][10][11][6] violated the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter, with the justices dismissing the case as moot.

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The court’s move came in an unsigned order. But Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasThe Navy’s reading program undermines America’s security Supreme Court revives police shooting victim’s suit against officers Supreme Court explores extent of tribal police authority MORE[13][14][15][16][17][12], the court’s most conservative member, wrote separately to voice concern that Trump’s removal from Twitter reflected a degree of power in the hands of tech platforms that the court would soon need to address.

The lawsuit arose in 2017 after Trump’s social media account blocked seven people who had tweeted criticism of the president in comment threads linked to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle, which has since been banned on the platform.

Read more here[18]

A LUKEWARM WELCOME: Tim Cook said he hopes the right-wing social media site Parler will eventually return to Apple’s App Store.

“I’m hoping that they put in the moderation that’s required to be on the store and come back, because I think having more social networks out there is better than having less,” the Silicon Valley giant’s chief executive said during an episode of The New York Times’s “Sway” podcast published Monday.[19]

Parler, which has pitched itself as a free speech alternative platform to Facebook and Twitter, was removed from both Apple’s and Google’s app stores shortly after the violent insurrection at the Capitol in January.

Read more about Cook’s comments[20]

AMAZON UNDER FIRE: Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its workers when it fired them after they publicly criticized the company’s climate policies and supported workers protesting warehouse conditions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found.

The NLRB found the allegations in the case had merit, and a regional director will issue a complaint if the case does not settle, according to the board.

The board’s determination about the firing of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa was first reported by The New York Times[21]

A spokesperson for Amazon denied the allegations that the employees were fired for speaking out.

“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” the Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.

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The case is one of many allegations of unfair labor practices Amazon is facing, and the  NLRB is in the process of counting up ballots in the unionization vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. If successful, the effort would create the first Amazon union in the U.S.[22]

Read more here[23]

DEMOCRATS QUESTION INSTAGRAM FOR KIDS: Democrats told Facebook on Monday they have concerns about the platform’s plans for an Instagram for children over the company’s “past failures” to protect kids on platforms aimed at youth users.

“Facebook has a record of failing to protect children’s privacy and safety, casting serious doubt on its ability to do so on a version of Instagram that is marketed to children,”  Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyGive Republicans the climate credit they deserve Biden risks first major fight with progressives Five takeaways on Biden’s big infrastructure package MORE[25][26][27][28][29][24] (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorLawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE[31][32][33][34][35][30] (D-Fla.) and Rep. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanLawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death Ethics panel finds Massachusetts Democrat didn’t violate rules MORE[37][38][39][40][41][36] (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergCongressional CEO grillings can’t solve disinformation: We need a public interest regulator Google spending M to fight misinformation, fake news in Europe Hillicon Valley: Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot | Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinfo on Facebook, Instagram | U.S. schools increasingly resuming in-person learning MORE[44][45][46][47][48][43][42]

The Democrats pressed Facebook over concerns about children’s safety in regards to health, well being and data privacy.

Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to make an account, but Facebook has acknowledged that young users sometimes lie about their date of birth in creating an account. [49]

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“If we can encourage kids to use an experience that is age-appropriate and managed by parents, we think that’s far better than kids using apps that weren’t designed for them,” Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokesperson, said in response to the letter.

But the Democrats said that if Facebook’s goal is to decrease the number of users under the age of 13 on Instagram, the proposal for an alternative “may do more harm than good.”

Read more here[50]

NETFLIX (NOT) ON TOP: Netflix saw its dominance of the U.S. streaming market slip during 2020 as new competitors emerged and the coronavirus pandemic forced many Americans to remain in their homes.

According to Ampere Analysis data shared with TheWrap, Netflix’s share of the U.S. streaming market fell from 29 percent at the start of 2020 to 20 percent, a drop of 31 percent.[51]

Netflix reportedly still had the most U.S. subscribers of any streaming service — about 67 million — as of January.

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Amazon Prime also saw a drop in U.S. market share, the news outlet noted. The company previously controlled 21 percent of the streaming market and is now down to 16 percent, a drop of 24 percent, according to an analysis. About 54 million Prime users use the video app in the U.S., TheWrap reported.

Lighter click: That’s awkward[53]

An op-ed to chew on: The information superhighway must be accessible and affordable for all[54]

[email protected] (Maggie Miller,Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar)

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