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For years, Google has functioned as the world’s digital commons — a place where users aggregate, store, and search for publicly-available knowledge. It’s served as a hub for internet activity and a portal through which people can access the collective understanding of mankind.
Without a doubt, Google takes its role in society quite seriously. From its longstanding effort to digitize libraries to its most recent attempt to collect and log medical records, Google has worked tirelessly to create a “common feast” of information that anyone can access.
Google - Approach - Information - Sharing - Problems
But increasingly, Google’s open-source approach to information sharing is creating far more problems than solutions. And nowhere is this fact more clearly illustrated than within the intellectual property (IP) sphere. Google’s notably lax approach to IP has thrown the entire copyright industry into chaos. Moreover, it has resulted in perhaps the most influential IP lawsuit in decades: Google v. Oracle.
Granted review by the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court is currently being flooded by a wave of Amicus Briefs on the issue. But individual and corporate interests aside, the upcoming Supreme Court case reflects an unfortunate truth about Google’s approach to intellectual property. Rather than contribute to the greater good, the company’s “common feast” position on IP is leaving innovators to starve.
Case - Incident - Oracle - ? - Owner
The case revolves around a years-old incident that occurred between Oracle — the owner of Java, a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995 — and Google. Instead of purchasing a licensing agreement from Oracle to use the Java software, Google chose to copy a substantial portion of the program’s code to use within its own mobile phone software, Android. Then, as Google is wont to do, the company made the operating system open source, allowing phone carriers and app developers to utilize the operating system without cost.
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