Politics

Trump Administration Understands Importance of Copyright, but Will the Supreme Court?

Op-ed lays out what's at stake in Google v. Oracle before the high court; president has shown he's a fierce advocate of intellectual property rights

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If there is one thing that President Donald Trump understands, it’s the value of intellectual property (IP) and copyrights.

A man who built a multi-billion-dollar enterprise off the sweat of his brow and his name alone, Donald Trump recognizes the fundamental right to guard one’s own creations from those who would seek to abuse them.

For years, the president has fought to protect copyright and the private property it safeguards.

His 2018 passage of the Music Modernization Act provided essential landmark IP protections for those in the music and entertainment industry.

And the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that Trump’s “new” NAFTA trade agreement — the USMCA — both promotes patents and establishes stronger copyright protections.

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Related: USMCA: ‘A Trump Win’ and a ‘Win for the American People’

Without a doubt, the president is a fierce advocate for intellectual property rights and recently demonstrated his commitment to those principles yet again.

In early 2019, the Supreme Court sought the Trump administration’s opinion regarding an upcoming legal case, Google v. Oracle.

Google had previously duplicated a substantial portion of Oracle’s copyrighted Java software and was planning to use it within its own mobile phone platform.

Oracle subsequently filed a suit against Google, arguing that Google’s decision to copy and implement the Java code represented a blatant violation of copyright law.

But Google took a different approach. Rather than arguing that its actions were justifiable under the current interpretation of the law, the tech company attempted to claim that copyright claim itself was applied incorrectly.

The code it copied, it maintained, shouldn’t even be subject to legal protection in the first place.

Defying not just the spirit of copyright law but President Trump’s own wishes for the company to cease its crusade, Google pressed forward, appealing decision after decision that didn’t side in its favor. Though Google — with its clear preference for Democrats — has long been a nettlesome force against the president, this was different.

Now, Google was attacking not just conservatives but the very values that ground us.

Years and multiple appeals later, the Supreme Court — contemplating hearing the case that had twice been decided in Oracle’s favor —requested Trump’s views on the matter. On Oct. 1, 2019, the president’s administration opined.

In a fiery legal brief, the president came to the defense of intellectual property rights, excoriated Google’s actions, and strongly recommended the high court not take the case.

“[Google] copied 11,500 lines of computer code verbatim, as well as the complex structure and organization inherent in that code, in order to help its competing commercial product,” the administration said. “The record demonstrates, moreover, that [Google’s] unauthorized copying harmed the market for [Oracle’s] Java platform.”

That type of behavior is precisely the kind that copyrights are meant to protect against.

Unfortunately, though, at least a portion of the president’s staunch defense of intellectual property fell on deaf ears.

On Nov. 15, 2019, the Supreme Court disregarded the president’s recommendation to allow the lower court’s decision to stand.

Instead, it agreed to hear Google’s appeal — reopening Google v. Oracle and once again placing America’s copyright protections once again in jeopardy.

If the Supreme Court were to reverse the appellate court’s ruling and side with Google over Oracle, the decision would change the very nature of copyright protections within the United States — and not for the better. The Supreme Court would set a precedent that software, such as Oracle’s Java, would no longer be protected as intellectual property.

It would strip away the legal safeguards necessary to protect innovation within the digital sphere and it will erode the rights of creators everywhere.

The Trump administration, for its part, recognized the risk of such an outcome.

By penning the legal brief in favor of Oracle, Trump once again expressed his support for intellectual property protections.

The president understands the necessary role that copyrights play within the United States — and why Google is wrong to undermine them.

But now the question becomes: Does the Supreme Court think the same way?

For the sake of the republic, private property, and the liberties Americans enjoy, one hopes the answer is yes.

Mark Anthony is a former Silicon Valley executive with Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). He’s host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “The Patriot and The Preacher.” Find out more at patriotandpreachershow.com.

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