FFCON21 Breaking Barriers May 11-13, 2021

Category Archives: Innovation and Resources

ETF investors say Coinbase listing will cause explosion in crypto investing

ComplianceX | Jack J. Kelly | Apr 12, 2021

Cryptocurrencies - ETF investors say Coinbase listing will cause explosion in crypto investingThe pending Coinbase direct listing, scheduled for Wednesday on the Nasdaq under the symbol COIN, is exciting a broad base of the investment community outside the usual cryptocurrency crowd.

“Coinbase is going to blow people’s minds,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Asset Management, which pioneered the first cryptocurrency index fund. “I think it’s going to force traditional finance to wrestle with the phenomenal growth that is taking place in crypto.”

It’s not hard to understand why. Coinbase is likely the biggest beneficiary of the cryptocurrency revival. It had 56 million verified users, with $1.8 billion in revenues in the first quarter alone, and a value that could be anywhere from $50 billion to $100 billion.

That is an extraordinary valuation for an exchange of any type. By contrast, Intercontinental Exchange, which runs the New York Stock Exchange, has a market cap of $65 billion, while Nasdaq has a market cap of $25 billion.

See:  The Under-Appreciated Significance of Coinbase Going Public

That kind of valuation is getting the investment community — and particularly exchange-traded fund investors — very excited.

Biggest crypto pure play

Crypto assets have had the same problem that other hot commodities (like pot or space) have had in the past: a high degree of interest with a notable lack of investible assets. Coinbase, however, will go a long way toward solving that problem.  Because ownership of crypto by individuals and institutions is still fairly low, many believe the valuation of Coinbase will encourage more private entities to go public.

“I think we’re going to see a gold rush for crypto equities as investors realize just how fast the ‘picks and shovels’ companies of the crypto ecosystem are growing,” Hougan said.

Michelle Bond, a former senior counsel at the SEC who is now CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets, an association of firms in the digital marketplace, said "the Coinbase listing will break down headline barriers because this will have to be approved by a traditional financial regulator, ensuring transparency, integrity and disclosure.”

Will the SEC finally approve a bitcoin ETF?

While bitcoin ETFs exist in the U.S., they do not directly own bitcoin. They own portfolios of stocks deemed to have exposure to blockchain technology.  A bitcoin ETF that owns bitcoin is a long-awaited dream of crypto investors because it will greatly expand the class of potential owners.

“A bitcoin ETF will provide an easy, simple and efficient way to own bitcoin,” said Som Seif, who runs the Purpose Bitcoin ETF, which trades in Canada. “Just like gold, the storage and custody of bitcoin is unique. An ETF solves that problem. Also it’s like a stamp of approval: There’s institutional backing. The GLD [Gold ETF] changed the world when it came out in 2004. It made it easy to own gold as an asset class.”

See:  Canadian Regulators Green Light World’s First Bitcoin ETF for Retail Investors

Several weeks ago, the SEC acknowledged the receipt of Van Eck’s bitcoin ETF application, which set in motion a 45-day regulatory review period. At the end of that period, the SEC must either approve, deny or extend the review period. Several other firms, including Fidelity, have also applied for a bitcoin ETF.  Most observers believe the SEC will punt and seek to extend the review period. The maximum period is 240 days.  However, most bitcoin watchers believe late 2021 could finally be the year a bitcoin ETF is approved.

“The biggest potential change is [SEC Chair nominee] Gary Gensler,” Magoon said, noting that Gensler has taught cryptocurrencies and appears more receptive to a bitcoin filing. He also noted that SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, a Republican, has also been a supporter of a bitcoin ETF.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - ETF investors say Coinbase listing will cause explosion in crypto investing The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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How Do Canadian Discount Brokers Compare With Robinhood?

Guest Post | April 12, 2021

online trading setup - How Do Canadian Discount Brokers Compare With Robinhood?

Robinhood is a US-based digital stockbroker and trading app that experienced exponential growth over the past few years. The company is on a mission to democratize investing by making the stock market accessible to all. To help with its purpose, Robinhood introduced zero-commission stock trades way back in 2013.

Unfortunately for Canadian investors looking to build their savings, Robinhood is not available to them. There is no indication that Robinhood along with rivals like eToro will make their way up north anytime soon.

In the meantime, the battle of Canadian brokers pits legacy and old-school institutions against newer-age online platforms. For example, this BMO Investorline vs Questrade guide compares and contrasts BMO’s brokerage service that was launched in 1988 with Questrade’s service that was launched just in time for the new century.

Why Isn’t Robinhood Available In Canada?

Robinhood Co-Founder and Co-CEO Baiju Bhatt said in a Reddit AMA in 2019 the company paused in 2016 all plans related to market expansion. Robinhood cited the surprising Brexit outcome and corresponding market uncertainty in its decision to focus exclusively on the US market.

By July 2020, Robinhood confirmed all international expansion plans are no longer part of the company's thought process. Expectations for Robinhood to become one of the online stock brokers available to Canadians has been shot down, possibly for good.

Robinhood said: “We’ve come to recognize that our efforts are currently best spent on strengthening our core business in the US and making further investments in our foundational systems.”

Chances are more likely that eToro will bring its online stockbroker platform to Canada. The Israel-based rival to Robinhood already has a presence in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. The company recently closed a deal to list itself on the US stock market and will have US$800 million in cash to support future growth initiatives.

In the meantime, the list of stockbrokers in Canada remains mostly the same in 2021 as it was 20 years ago. The list of some of the more notable online Canadian brokers including BMO Investorline, Questrade, Qtrade, Scotia iTrade, TD Direct Investing, WealthSimple, among others.

Do Any Stock Brokers In Canada Offer Free Trading?

Robinhood gained fame by letting all clients transact on its online stock brokerage platform for free. The challenge it presented to legacy brokers was immense and US banks scrambled to introduce free stock platforms of their own.

Only one of the online Canadian stock brokers offers free trading -- sort of. Wealthsimple is a zero-fee robo-advisor firm that only charges clients an annual fee equal to 0.4% or 0.5% of their total assets under management.

Users with up to $100,000 in assets pay a fee of 0.5% and those with more money pay a reduced fee of 0.5%. The math behind the fee structure could prove to be extremely beneficial or very disadvantages for users depending on their individual circumstances.

A Canadian investor that just opened an online brokerage account with $50,000 will pay roughly $250 a year in fees. The tradeoff is the investor is paying for an automated service that includes features like automatic rebalancing, dividend reinvestment, and tax loss harvesting.

However, knowledgeable and investment savvy Canadian investors looking for a do-it-yourself experience can set up a diversified portfolio with 12 stocks at roughly half the cost of one year’s worth of Wealthsimple fees. Wealthsimple charges a premium forex fee for all trades denominated in US dollars so it may or may not be advantageous compared to rivals like BMO Investorline and those from big banks that typically charge a flat fee of nearly $10 a trade.

Wealthsimple trading - How Do Canadian Discount Brokers Compare With Robinhood?

Source: Wealthsimple

Some Canadian Brokers Offer Free ETF Trading

A few other Canadian online brokers offer free access to buy and sell exchange-traded funds. Some of the brokers that offer free ETF trading include Qtrade, Wealthsimple, National Bank Direct Brokerages, among others.

Other brokers like BMO Investorline are stuck in the dinosaur era where buying and selling ETFs still cost close to $10.

Do Canadian Online Brokers Offer Fractional Share Ownership?

Another key feature that makes Robinhood stand out as one of the more popular online stock brokers is a feature that lets investors buy fractional shares. Investors can buy as little as one one-millionth of a share and upwards.

This gives investors of all shapes and sizes the ability to own what the big shots on Wall Street own. Investors can buy one-tenth of one share of Amazon's stock for around US $330.

Canadians hoping to take advantage of similar features on one of their online stock brokers are mostly out of luck. A Questrade representative on Reddit confirmed it has “no plans” for fractional trading at the moment.

Interactive Brokers is a US-based online stock broker available to Canadians and it started offering fractional share ownerships to its Canadian users in 2019. Aside from Interactive Brokers, Canadians hoping to do what Robinhood clients have been doing for some time are out of luck.

Conclusion: What Are The Closest Canadian Alternatives To Robinhood?

No single Canadian online stock broker offers an identical experience to Robinhood. Wealthsimple would be considered among the closest given its zero-commission fee structure although for many this could prove to be more expensive given its value-added fees.

Canadian brokers like Questrade and Qtrade might be viewed by some as a close alternative. All three embrace the digital revolution and target younger millennials looking to invest their small but growing fortune.

On the other end of the spectrum, old Canadian online brokers like BMO Investorline, RBC Direct Investing, and TD Direct Investing have the least in common with Robinhood that strives to make investing cheap and accessible to all.


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How Do Canadian Discount Brokers Compare With Robinhood? The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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How the no code movement is changing companies and empowering problem solvers

Sifted | Freya Pratty | Apr 8, 2021

tines - How the no code movement is changing companies and empowering problem solversNo code means the people who understand a problem the most are the ones devising its solution, says no code startup Tines.

No code — tech that helps people develop software without the need for code — is having a moment.

It’s projected that no code companies will be worth a collective $21bn by 2022; compared to the $3.5bn they were worth in 2017.

Emblematic of the trend is Tines, a startup based in Dublin that runs a no code platform helping to automate security work. Tines has just raised a $26m Series B round, led by Addition and including participation from Accel and Blossom Capital.

See:  How to Think About Your Business Model and Pitch It to Investors

Tines cofounder Eoin Hinchy says no code has the potential to make significant changes to the way we work: from giving a more diverse range of key skillsets, to freeing up staff time and ensuring the people who know most about a problem are the ones devising its solution.

Excel is the original no code platform, he says. It’s a platform that enables anyone to create a spreadsheet, with no coding or software development knowledge required.

No code is about developing similar platforms for other functions, so more people can build things without having to learn to code.

Tines

Tines is a no code platform for security analysts. Hinchy used to work in tech security himself — for companies like eBay, Docusign and PayPal —  where he says he realised that 80% of his team’s time was spent on repetitive tasks.

“It takes six months to hire a security analyst, then you’ve got them doing the same menial tasks over and over again,” he says. “And because they’re security experts not software engineers, they can’t write the code to get themselves off the treadmill.”

Tines aims to help those security experts to create their own automated solutions. The platform has broken down automation into seven actions which it says take three hours to learn how to use and, from there, people can automate any process themselves.

“Anyone, no matter what their technology background, will be as effective as a senior software engineer after three hours,” Hinchy says.

See:  Techlash continues to batter technology sector

The platform aims to automate 99% of menial tasks, be it things like sending responses to phishing emails, onboarding new employees, sending emails, updating systems or modifying incoming events.

What will no code change?

The central idea behind no code, and one of the main reasons people find it so exciting, is that it puts the people who understand a problem the most in the position to devise its solution. In the case of Tines, that’s the security experts.

“That’s when automation is successful, when it’s automated by the people who know the problem best,” says Hinchy.

This automation frees up staff to work on other tasks — in security, that means longer term risk reduction work. No code also, Hinchy, says, means that a more diverse array of staff have the skills to work on the solution to a problem.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How the no code movement is changing companies and empowering problem solvers The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Techlash continues to batter technology sector

Brookings | Darrell West | Apr 2, 2021

Tech Backlash - Techlash continues to batter technology sector

Source: Felix Decombat

In our Brookings Press book, Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence published last year, John Allen and I note the backlash against technology that has reduced public support for many things digital. As an illustration, Pew Research Center surveys show people are worried about privacy intrusions, cybersecurity risks, and misinformation campaigns. Many individuals think the pace of technological change is advancing too rapidly and it is hard to distinguish fake from actual phenomena.

Now a new Edelman Trust Barometer poll shows how much more widely this “techlash” has spread. In the United States, trust in the technology sector has fallen from 78% in 2012 to 57% in 2021. Globally, tech sector trust has dropped from 77% to 68% during that time.

In less than a decade, according to that firm, the public has grown far more suspicious about misinformation, personal privacy, 5G networks, and AI bias, among other things.

The decline of public trust in the technology sector has profound consequences for how people view digitization and options for government oversight and regulation. The precipitous drop over the past year is noteworthy because of the crucial role technology has played in the pandemic response. Due to COVID-19, people have shifted to online learning, telemedicine, remote work, and e-commerce.

See:  Edelman Canadian Trust Report: Trust declines in all sectors including 8% in technology

In this situation of widespread technology utilization to cope with the social distancing requirements of the pandemic, one might imagine the public would see the benefits produced in at least some of these areas would outweigh the costs and the risks. COVID-19 forced what otherwise might have been five years of digital change into five weeks. Nearly everyone has grown quite dependent on technology to work, learn, and communicate. That should have boosted public confidence in technology.

In the United States, trust in the technology sector has fallen from 78% in 2012 to 57% in 2021. Globally, tech sector trust has dropped from 77% to 68% during that time.

Yet the loss of trust suggests many are not happy with the role technology plays in their pandemic lives and feel there are many problems that need to be addressed. Although digital connections helped them work remotely, a number are suffering from Zoom fatigue, misinformation, privacy loss, and social isolation. A significant percentage seems to feel that tech risks outweigh benefits.

In addition, widely reported problems with online learning platforms have frustrated students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Rather than boosting confidence, these issues have eroded public trust. Although technology enables some types of learning, some experts have concluded students learned far less from online platforms than what would have been the case with in-person classrooms.

See:  PwC Report: Canadian Digital Trust Insights 2021: Cybersecurity comes of age

If public opinion continues to trend in negative directions for the technology sector, both in the United States and around the world, it likely will broaden support for government actions that regulate technology, raise taxes, ban certain applications, and limit product rollouts seen as detrimental to humanity.

A lack of public confidence will encourage political leaders to take tough regulatory actions and limit the freedom private companies have had for decades to develop new products, bring them to the marketplace, and engage in international commerce.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Techlash continues to batter technology sector The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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#FFCON21 Brings Canada’s Tech Hub to the Web for 3 Days of Fintech Insights, Business Building

Investor Wire | Jonathan Keim | April 10, 2021

FFCON21 Image 3 - #FFCON21 Brings Canada’s Tech Hub to the Web for 3 Days of Fintech Insights, Business BuildingFFCON21: Breaking Barriers May 11-13

  • The 2021 Fintech & Financing Conference and Expo (#FFCON21) is scheduled May 11-13
  • Global virtual conference streamed from Toronto, the hub of Canada’s developing fintech ecosystem, but presented online due to pandemic concerns
  • 50-plus speakers with expert insights planned
  • Networking opportunities to connect one-to-one with peers and experts
  • Draft pitching competition to gain attention for business brand (as well as prizes)

The 7th Fintech & Financing Conference and Expo will be held for global participants virtually from May 11-13, 2021.  Originating in Toronto, FFCON21 has grown from a basic collaboration between entrepreneurs and big businesses intent on driving change into a thriving gathering of fintech, blockchain, crypto, digital banking, AI, payments, wealthtech, regtech, alternative finance stakeholders and global participants with a love for Canada’s fintech ecosystem.

In its seventh year, the 2021 gathering (#FFCON21) has been adapted to the health security needs of attendees during the present global pandemic, offering exclusive online access to a three-day collection of educational courses, networking opportunities, pitch competitions, e-booth demos and an auction for charity. 

The conference will take place May 11 to 13, still celebrating its place within Canada’s rising fintech and financial sector even as it extends its reach to a global audience through a virtual platform. Tickets, including early bird rates at present and a special startups-only package, are available at https://ibn.fm/3Ov1h.

Conference organizers anticipate bringing attendees to the table with some 50 speakers ranging from Main Street executives such as the president and CEO of public-private partnership Toronto Finance International to enterprising up-and-comers such as the founder-partner of startup builder Borderless Ventures and its CryptoAssets Institute.

See:  Showcase your products/services: Secure a DEMO Speaker spot at FFCON21: May 11-1

The second annual draft pitching and demo competition follows a sports league model geared toward identifying and featuring emerging and high growth fintech startups and scaleups. The “Breaking Barriers” theme of the conference is particularly appropriate here as draft participants compete for exposure and prizes, including promotion to investors, media, prospective buyers and partners.

The online access format driven by the pandemic proved advantageous last year following a scheduling delay necessary to reimagine the presentation of the spring conference. The digital venue and interactive platform allows for increased participation on a global scale because of the elimination of travel expenses from the plan. Networking and file sharing are able to occur naturally and easily using integrated online text and video chat features.

Additionally, the online platform makes it simple to access all digital content to catch up on anything attendees may have missed at a time when it is more convenient. Networking and e-booth displays present attendees with the potential to make connections with a future business mentor, investor or a prospective employee to help build their companies.

And at the heart of it all is the class schedule with insights from thought leaders on the direction of fintech solutions and emerging fintech trends. Presentations will explore topics that address the latest innovations, emerging industry regulation and the impact of government activity on financial technology markets.

For more information, visit the conference’s web portal at https://fintechandfunding.com.

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - #FFCON21 Brings Canada’s Tech Hub to the Web for 3 Days of Fintech Insights, Business Building The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Crypto whale ‘Metakovan’ sees NFTs as ‘huge risk’ for traders

BNN Bloomberg | Joanna Ossinger | Apr 6, 2021

Vignesh Sundaresan - Crypto whale 'Metakovan' sees NFTs as ‘huge risk’ for tradersThe cryptocurrency entrepreneur who spent more than US$69 million for a piece of digital art has a message for speculative buyers of non-fungible tokens: be prepared to lose your money.

Vignesh Sundaresan, also known by the online moniker MetaKovan, vaulted into the spotlight last month after paying a record-breaking sum for the NFT of Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days.” As Sundaresan tells it, his motivation wasn’t to make money but to support the artist and showcase the technology.

Anyone trying to profit from NFTs is “taking a huge risk,” he said in a video interview. “It’s even crazier than investing in crypto.”

The comments may raise eyebrows coming from someone who made his fortune in cryptocurrencies and has done more than perhaps anyone else to fuel the mania surrounding NFTs with big-ticket purchases of digital art. But it’s also hard to argue with Sundaresan’s warning: Average prices for NFTs tracked by Nonfungible.com tumbled almost 70 per cent from a peak in February through early April.

See:  After you die what happens to your digital assets and NFTs?

B.20, a token created by Sundaresan to enable “shared ownership of an open art project” that includes some of Beeple’s works, has dropped to about US$7 from US$23 since he won the Christie’s auction for Everydays on March 11. It was trading below 50 cents in January, according to CoinGecko.com.

The extraordinary boom and bust has fueled a debate over whether NFTs -- essentially digital certificates of authenticity -- will have a lasting impact on markets for art, collectibles and beyond, or turn into the latest example of an investment bubble that enriches a select few while saddling latecomers with losses.

Some skeptics have questioned whether Sundaresan’s Everydays purchase was partly an attempt to drive up the value of his existing NFT positions. He denies having profited from the transaction and said he hasn’t sold his personal holdings of B.20 tokens.

On the long-term outlook for NFTs, Sundaresan agrees with aspects of both the bull and the bear case. He describes the technology as an enduring innovation that will enable a “new patronage movement” for artists and other content creators, many of whom now rely on ad-supported revenue models via internet platforms like Instagram. But Sundaresan also said the fervor around many of the highest-priced NFTs will likely fade.

See:  What’s possible with Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

“I don’t think NFTs will hold the same kind of hype forever around high-value items,” he said. “The market will get divided. There will be very few high-value items and an infinite number of very low-valued items.”  He said the best way to participate is by purchasing NFTs from artists you want to support. “It’s not primarily an investment,” said Sundaresan, who grew up collecting stamps and WWE playing cards.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Crypto whale 'Metakovan' sees NFTs as ‘huge risk’ for traders The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Supreme Court handed Google a win in a decade-long court battle with Oracle

The New York Times | | Apr 5, 2021

Google vs oracle supreme court - Supreme Court handed Google a win in a decade-long court battle with Oracle

The 6-2 ruling, which overturns a victory for Oracle, marks a climax to a decade-old case that divided Silicon Valley and promised to reshape the rules for the software industry. Oracle was seeking as much as $9 billion.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said it was kosher to copy someone else’s computer code in some cases. That handed Google a win in a decade-long court battle with Oracle over the guts of the Android smartphone system.

See:  Our patent and copyright system isn’t prepared for inventions or designs by AI

I’ll explain why the technology industry was relieved by the decision, and the ways it might be relevant for artists, writers and archivists. I also want us to ponder this: Why are thorny legal questions seemingly inescapable in technology right now?

What was the legal case?

Oracle controls software programming technologies called Java that are a building block for many apps and digital services. Google used a relatively small chunk of Java computer code in its Android operating system, and that made it easier for software experts to make smartphone apps.

In the Google v. Oracle America case, Google said it was standard practice to copy what are called application programming interfaces, or APIs, a set of instructions to make sure that technologies from different companies can work together. Oracle said that Google stole its software and demanded billions of dollars. Each company said it was trying to save the tech industry from ruin.

This is complicated stuff that made lawyers on both sides and the justices grasping for analogies — safecracking, football playbooks and restaurant menus — to explain APIs. In his majority opinion on behalf of six justices, Justice Stephen G. Breyer compared APIs to the gas pedal, which tells a car to move faster, and a keyboard that types a letter when you press a specific key.

A big question went unanswered, but it might not matter.

Google won. Although as my colleague Adam Liptak wrote, the Supreme Court had previously said it would answer two questions: Whether companies like Oracle could copyright APIs, and if so, whether Google’s use of them fit an exception to the copyright law known as fair use. A majority of the justices answered only the second question, with a yes.

See:  The future relationship between AI and IP

Two justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said it was a mistake to sidestep the question of whether APIs are protected by copyright laws. Justice Thomas wrote that he would have said yes.

Even though the justices left an open question, intellectual property lawyers told me that the decision should give comfort to companies that use APIs. The Supreme Court essentially blessed what Google did because it took APIs and transformed the software into something new that can benefit all of us.

Many technologists had sided with Google — even those who aren’t usually fans of the company. They worried that if companies could prevent rivals from using APIs or charge exorbitant prices to use them, it could discourage companies from inventing new products. For them, the Supreme Court decision brought relief.

The technology industry is racked with legal questions now: How should the First Amendment apply to social media companies? Do antitrust laws need to be rewritten for Big Tech? Does a 25-year-old internet law preserve people’s free expression or crush it? Tech now revolves around laws, not just computer code.

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