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Updated by Thomas James on May 27, 2022
Thomas James Thomas James
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Attorney Thomas James's Astonishing List of Top Copyrights Cases of 2021

Minnesota attorney Thomas James, of the Law office of Tom James in Cokato, assembles another bombastic list of the top US copyright decisions of the year, v. 2021. A very short list this year. This list , although astonishing in some ways, is not really groundbreaking.


The culmination of many years of litigation between Google and Oracle. At issue was Google’s copying of 11,500 lines of code of the Java SE API. The US Supreme Court declared it fair use.
The case highlights the relatively weak protection that copyright offers for computer programs. The functional aspects of a computer program are better protected by patent than copyright.

Fair use is a murky concept, though. Computer programs still get copyright protection and it is still important to protect them.

Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith

... but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now. Read more at the Cokato Copyright Attorney.

Design Basics, LLC v. Signature Construction, Inc., No. 19-2716 (7th Cir. 2021) :: Justia

Some, but only very limited protection exists for architectural designs. Extremely close copying must be proven in order to establish infringement.

YouTube secures a big win in the EU over copyright

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that YouTube and other online platforms are not liable for contributory infringement when a user uploads infringing content. The immunity is similar to that afforded in the U.S. by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Nicki Minaj Pays Tracy Chapman $450,000 in Copyright Dispute - The New York Times

Tracy Chapman prevailed against Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement for the song, “Baby Can I Hold You."