Google v Oracle: Copyright and Fair Use Examined

Duke Computer Science Colloquium
Speaker Name
Owen Astrachan
Date and Time
The talk will be virtual on Zoom.
The Zoom link will be emailed to the CS department, or contact Jennifer Schmidt (jschmidt at to request it.

On April 5, 2021 the US Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision in the copyright case of Google v Oracle found that Google's use of the APIs from 37 Java packages in the Android platform was legally a "fair use", thus deciding the case in favor of Google.

This decision was the culmination of more than ten years of litigation and two jury trials whose decisions were each overturned on appeal, before being ultimately determined by the Supreme Court.

I was the technical expert witness working for Google in both jury trials. In this talk I will provide my perspective on the litigation, the trials, and the decision in favor of Google. I will provide background on copyright and fair use, tell some stories from my time in the courtroom and on the witness stand, and indicate why (unsurprisingly) this decision was good for the software industry.

Short Biography

Owen Astrachan is Professor of the Practice of Computer Science at Duke. He received an NSF Career award for introducing design patterns into undergraduate courses, was an inaugural recipient of the NSF/CISE Distinguished Education Fellow Award for emphasizing problem-oriented approaches, and was the PI for the NSF/College Board APCS Principles project from its inception in 2008 through its conclusion in 2019. He has received three teaching awards, including one while on sabbatical at the University of British Columbia, and in 2016 received the ACM Karl Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award.

He holds an AB degree with distinction from Dartmouth and has MAT, MS, and PhD degrees from Duke.