⏩ SCOTUS is on Team Google

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Legal News on Clubhouse

This week: SCOTUS decision on Google vs Oracle and the exodus of young lawyers from Big Law. Plus, the Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes are giving Nike a big headache!

Google -- and the internet -- notch win over Oracle

It’s a good day to be a coder. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided 6-2 with Google in a years-long lawsuit with Oracle, providing breathing room for programmers to use elements of other APIs as they make their own applications (APIs essentially allow two servers to communicate with each other).

  • The lawsuit was specifically about Android: Google built it with roughly 11,500 lines of Java code, which was owned by Oracle. Oracle wanted $9 billion in damages. 

  • The Justices got deep into the weeds with their decision: Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that elements of APIs are “inherently bound together with uncopyrightable ideas...and the creation of new creative expression.” He added that Google took “only what was needed” to make its program.

This is fantastic news for developers and probably for average internet users

Had the Supreme Court gone the other way, their jobs would have become much more complicated, and the internet would not operate nearly as smoothly. Coding languages regularly draw from each other, and similar building blocks inform many of them. (In October, Breyer noted that copyrighting parts of code in an API would be akin to copyrighting a QWERTY keyboard).

  • In a statement, Google said, “The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers.” 

The Verdict

Oracle, of course, didn’t see things the same way. The company pulled out the monopoly card, saying Google stole the code and used its power to grow bigger. 

🙋‍♀️ Personal values are leading more young lawyers to start solo careers 

More and more lawyers are leaving Big Law for entrepreneurship for entirely new reasons: They want to practice in a way that upholds their beliefs. 

  • Big Law has always had a churn problem: The stress pushes out young lawyers all the time, and down economies lead to massive layoffs. Lately, however, as Law.com reports, lawyers have opted out of Big Law on their own. 

  • For one thing, the transition is easier: Social media makes it possible for anyone to market themselves, and platforms for solo work (like Lawtrades!) offer an opportunity to build client bases, too. 

Then there’s the generational shift

Millennials care more about social issues and are risk-takers, legal recruiter Shannon Rahman told Law.com. “They’re willing to put themselves out there and do something non-traditional—and see if that works out,” she said.  

The Verdict

With remote work the standard in 2020 and so far in 2021, expect lawyers who have gotten used to WFH life to be even more comfortable with bold career moves. 

😈 The new battleground for fair use involves...Satan shoes?!

The internet went nuts a couple of weeks ago when rapper Lil Nas X dropped a music video in which he gave a lapdance to a CGI devil. He then proceeded to release an unauthorized version of a Nike shoe featuring a pentagram and a bible verse in red ink.   

Now, there’s a legal quagmire. 

  • Lil Nas X worked with the company MSCHF: As The Verge reports, they developed 666 pairs of the shoe, which is a remixed Nike Air Max 97. People and companies resell shoes all the time without any legal consequences, and Nike regularly partners with celebs and other brands on limited edition shoes. 

  • The issue for Nike was how the shoe looked: Nike sued MSCHF, accusing it of tarnishing the Nike brand by associating it with the devil. The company believes consumers may be confused and think Nike authorized the shoe. 

  • MSCHF said that’s ridiculous: And it went further by arguing the shoes were an artistic social commentary, satirizing Nike's collaboration culture with celebrities. Art is mostly protected by fair use.

The implications beyond Satan Shoes

Should Nike v. MSCHF ever go to court, consequences could spread to all designers. Resellers regularly modify clothing and apparel to enhance its appeal.  

The Verdict

After the Nike lawsuit, both MSCHF and Lil Nas X have frozen their sales. They only had one pair left anyway. 

💌 What else we’re forwarding

Clarence Thomas wants Congress to regulate moderation on social media: He sided with conservative politicians who believe Twitter and Facebook have too much power to kick people out. Nobody else from the court joined him.  

The litigation over the Texas freeze is heating up: From gouging to unpaid bills, lawsuits asking for billions are in the works.

🎧 Music we’re working to

Today we are listening to Takashi Kokubo, a Japanese sound designer and composer. He creates ambient music out of his environment and is at the forefront of a genre known as kankyō ongaku, combining sounds from nature and synthesizers to create soothing yet interesting tracks. His release Winds is the perfect album to listen to when you need to concentrate and avoid external distractions.

Winds - Takashi Kokubo (60m, no vocals)

Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube Music / Amazon Music /  Tidal

See ya later today.

🧐 Raad