Fair use nel software: la sentenza di appello in Apple v. Corellium

L’appello dell’11 circuito 8 maggio 2023, Apple v. Corellium, Case: 21-12835, decide un interessante caso di fair use nel software.

Si tratta del sftw CORSEC per simulare il sistema operativo iOS di Apple anche su macchine android.

La corte di appello conferma il fair use, dati i benefici per la collettività di tale sftw.

<< Like Google Books, CORSEC adds new features to copyrighted works. CORSEC allows re-searchers to visualize in real time iOS’s processes, freeze those pro-cesses and study them for as long as they need to, step backward and forward in time at will to closely monitor system activity, and run multiple experiments from the same starting point. CORSEC also adds file and app browsers. There’s no dispute that these fea-tures assist researchers and enable them to do their work in new ways. Corellium has thus “augment[ed] public knowledge by mak-ing available information about [iOS].” Id. at 207; see also A.V. ex rel. Vanderhye v. iParadigms, LLC, 562 F.3d 630, 639 (4th Cir. 2009) (finding that copying student assignments into a database to detect plagiarism was “transformative” because the database’s “use of [the students’] works had an entirely different function and pur-pose than the original works”); Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., 508 F.3d 1146, 1165 (9th Cir. 2007) (finding that Google image search’s “use of thumbnails [was] highly transformative” because the “use of the images served a different function” than the original pictures by “improving access to information on the internet ver-sus artistic expression” (cleaned up)); Sony Comput. Ent., Inc. v. Connectix Corp., 203 F.3d 596, 606 (9th Cir. 2000) (finding that a PlayStation emulator was “modestly transformative” because the emulator “create[d] a new platform, the personal computer, on which consumers can play games designed for the Sony PlayStation”) >>.

Apple solleva tre obieizoni, rigettate dalla Corte.

<<Against all this, Apple advances three arguments—all unpersuasive.

First, Apple argues that “making verbatim copies of a cop-yrighted work and converting [those works] into a different format is not transformative.” Apple is right. In Patton, for example, we found no transformative use where “verbatim copies of portions of . . . original books . . . ha[d] merely been converted into a digital format.” 769 F.3d at 1262. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit held that it was not transformative to convert copyrighted songs from CDs to MP3 files for download because the “original work[s] [were] merely retransmitted in a different medium.” See A&M Recs., Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004, 1015 (9th Cir. 2001).
But this isn’t a case in which the original is simply repack-aged in a different format. Corellium adds several features that are not normally available on iOS. These include (1) the ability to see and halt running processes; (2) the ability to modify the kernel; (3) CoreTrace, a tool to view system calls; (4) an app browser; (5) a file browser; and (6) the ability to take live snapshots. They also include, for example, the ability to modify the trust cache so that researchers can install new programs on the device that allow the user to perform fuzzing (a way to find bugs in a product’s code) or other types of security research. The record, in other words, shows that there wasn’t verbatim copying here. And even if there were, Patton itself recognized that “verbatim copying may be transform-ative so long as the copy serves a different function than the origi-nal work.” 769 F.3d at 1262. Here, Corellium used iOS to serve a research function, and not as a consumer electronic device.
Second, Apple contends that “[s]ecurity research is not a transformative purpose because it is one of the purposes already served by Apple’s works.” Apple says that “security researchers have long used Apple-licensed versions of iOS to do their work.” Corellium (in our view) rightly points out the flaw in this argu-ment: it’s “like saying Google Books was not transformative be-cause scholars could manually search books for keywords by going to the library.” In other words, there’s no dispute that CORSEC “adds features that are not available on retail iOS that are useful for security research.” These features make security research far more efficient. See Fox News Network, LLC v. TVEyes, Inc., 883 F.3d 169, 177 (2d Cir. 2018) (noting “the transformative purpose of en-hancing efficiency”). They also make possible deeper insights into the software. The fact that iOS itself allowed for some security re-search before, then, can’t negate Corellium’s innovation (just like sifting through books at the library didn’t negate Google Books’s transformativeness).
Third, Apple asserts that “the district court was wrong to find—on summary judgment—that the purpose of [CORSEC] is security research.” For this, Apple mostly points to evidence show-ing that customers can use CORSEC for multiple purposes. For example, Corellium’s expert testified that security research wasn’t CORSEC’s “exclusive use.” But transformativeness does not re-quire unanimity of purpose—or that the new work be entirely dis-tinct—because works rarely have one purpose. In assessing whether a work is transformative, the question has always been “whether a [transformative use] may reasonably be perceived.” Campbell, 510 U.S. at 582 (emphasis added) (finding that a parody was transformative even though both a song and its parody serve the same function of entertainment). We don’t ask whether the new product’s only purpose is transformative.
The Supreme Court made this point in Google. In that case, Google used Java’s code “for the same reason that [Oracle] created those portions, namely, to enable programmers [to use shortcuts] that would accomplish particular tasks.” Google, 141 S. Ct. at 1203. But, at a higher level, the purpose was to create a “new product [that] offer[ed] programmers a highly creative and innovative tool for a smartphone environment.” Id. This higher-order purpose was what made Google’s product transformative. Id. As in Google, the mere fact that some purposes overlap does not pre-clude a finding of transformative use >>