New York Post - 13.03.2020

(Ben Green) #1
New York Post, Friday, March 13, 2020

Is Blas’ New York

Truly Corona-Ready?



his month, the Supreme Court
hears oral arguments in Google
v. Oracle — widely dubbed
“the copyright case of the cen-
tury.” Let’s hope the ­Supremes stop
Google in its tracks.
Google is offering a dangerous
legal argument that, if left stand-
ing, would directly abet China’s
­relentless theft of American intel-
lectual property.
The facts are wonky, so bear with
me. In 2010, the tech firm ­Oracle
sounded the alarm that Google cop-
ied its Java software application-
program interfaces (API) for Goo-
gle’s Android smartphone without a
license. In the litigation that fol-
lowed, a federal appellate court
twice ruled for Oracle, rejecting
Google’s main defense that it made
“fair use” of Oracle’s code.
Google argues that API ought to
not be copyrightable, because
­innovation would be ­unduly sti-
fled. But that’s exactly backward: It
is allowing conglomerates to pilfer
code that would stifle innovation.
Google’s definition of “fair use” is
so broad, it would allow the excep-
tion to swallow the rule — which is
aimed at protecting the hard work
of others.
As Team Trump argues in its
friend-of-the-court brief, Google
simply “copied lines of code verba-
tim from a rival software platform,
inserted them into a competing, in-
compatible platform and then mar-
keted the infringing product.”
To allow such shamelessness
would diminish entrepreneurs’ in-
centives to innovate and take risks
— and imperil venture-capital

funding that would otherwise flow
to tech startups. Who would invest
in a niche startup knowing a firm
like Google could simply take the
resulting code gratis?
“The goal of copyright,” as the
Supremes have previously said, is
“to promote sciences and the arts.”
Our Founders took the promotion
of arts and sciences so seriously,
they wrote copyright protection
right into the US Constitution.
They would have considered the
notion that a software company
could be forced to give away its
creative work both unjust and
The acute domestic harms aside,

it is in the international arena
where a pro-Google ruling could
be most destructive. Specifically,
Google’s legal argument would
frustrate the Trump administra-
tion’s ongoing trade negotiations
with China and exacerbate the
­already serious threat of Chinese
intellectual-property theft.
Communist China’s long and
­inglorious history of stealing ideas
was a focal point for the Trump
­administration’s recently com-
pleted “phase one” trade deal with
the Beijing regime.
Tackling the problem was long
overdue: Estimates are that Chi-
nese intellectual-property theft
costs the United States roughly
$225 billion to $600 billion every
year. Only recently has China

­begun to earnestly crack down.
As the conservative Hudson
­Institute sharply argues in its own
friend-of-the-court brief, this geo-
political context makes Google’s
legal position profoundly ill-timed
and worrisome.
Bestowing legal legitimacy upon
Google’s extraordinarily lenient
proposed standards for using
copyrighted software, Hudson
­argues, would “make it extremely
difficult to police international
theft” of intellectual property. Rul-
ing in favor of such a freewheeling
“fair-use” copyright “exception,” as
Google argues, would therefore
not merely throw software innova-
tion to ruin; it would curtail the
Trump administration’s fresh, and
thus far promising, efforts to force
China to provide greater intellec-
tual-property protection.
As the Hudson Institute notes,
Google’s argument actually “pro-
vides a roadmap” for China to “cir-
cumvent US international copyright
protection for computer code.” And
it would provide that roadmap just
as President Trump’s efforts to bring
Beijing to heel have begun.
If Google were to prevail in the
copyright case of the century, it
would cause tremendous uncer-
tainty for the software industry,
hinder creativity and entrepre-
neurship — and thwart the nation’s
efforts to counter a powerful and
malicious geopolitical foe’s whole-
sale theft of American ideas. The
justices must bar such a result.
Josh Hammer is a syndicated col-
umnist and of counsel at First Liberty
Institute. Twitter: @Josh_Hammer

google vs. america

Josh Hammer


ayor de Blasio and his public-health team have been holding
regular briefings on the coronavirus crisis in New York City,
­detailing the extent of its transmission, updating the public on the
progression of the disease in infected persons and offering guide-
lines for avoiding infection.
All good work, but there are signs that the city is less prepared for a mass
outbreak than officials suggest. De Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxi-
ris Barbot have stressed that though the coronavirus is certainly conta-
gious, the mechanics of transmission are relatively limited.
“The virus can only transmit when bodily fluid, such as through a sneeze,
cough or spit, is transferred from a person who has the virus, directly into
another person,” de Blasio stated in a news release. “Disease detectives
have determined that the virus does
not survive for more than two or
three minutes in open air.”
The claim that coronavirus dies
quickly upon exposure to the
­atmosphere is striking; it also
seems to contradict information
elsewhere. The World Health
­Organization says that the novel
coronavirus appears to behave sim-
ilarly to related viruses and “may
persist on surfaces for a few hours
or up to several days.” A ­recent arti-
cle in the Journal of Hospital Infec-
tion suggests that, depending on
the surface material, it can remain
infectious for up to nine days.
If coronavirus loses its potency
after two or three minutes, then
many intensive practices and pre-
cautions are unnecessary, such as
constant deep cleaning of buses
and subways. Closing schools for
24 hours for sterilization after a
local infection — as Gov. Cuomo
has announced he would do —
would also be unnecessary.
Asked how the Department of

Health had concluded that the
­virus dies quickly in the open air,
the mayor was unpersuasive.
“There are studies, there are aca-
demic studies, there are global
and national organizations pro-
viding the information they have,”
he said. “But you know, the old
saying, God bless the child who’s
got his own or her own... All
­information is valuable, but the
information that we’re gleaning
from our own direct experience is
the most valuable to us.”
When pressed, Barbot acknowl-
edged that the finding is hypo-
thetical. “This is a novel virus that
we’re still learning a lot about,”
she said. Since the virus’ surface-
contamination properties remain
in dispute, the city would have
been better off not presenting its
own findings as fact. That would
make its broader instructions less
More troubling is the insistence
that New York’s hospital system is
fully capable of handling a wide-
spread outbreak, which in ­extreme
cases can cause total respiratory
failure and necessitate ­intubation.
De Blasio and Dr. Mitchell Katz,

the head of NYC Health + Hospi-
tals, the largest public-health net-
work in the country, have said
­repeatedly that the hospital system
has “1,200 beds that can be
brought online immediately,” as a
reserve stock.
As a public-health emergency,
coronavirus is a logistical crisis
about capacity. Most people who
get infected, perhaps 80 percent,
are asymptomatic or suffer only
lightly. Of the remainder, a fraction
become seriously ill and require
the use of a ventilator.
The disease appears to be spread-
ing exponentially, with the total
number of new cases outside China
increasing by a factor of 10 every 14
to 16 days. Assuming this trend
holds, then the 20 or so cases we see

in Gotham now could reach 2,000
by mid-April, 200,000 by mid-May
and even 2 million by June.
New York City’s entire hospital
system has about 26,000 beds. If
10 percent of the city’s population
becomes infected, and only 5 per-
cent of those 850,000 people
­become seriously ill, that would
still require 42,500 hospital beds
— and nursing staff to tend to the
patients, along with ventilators
and other equipment.
Katz offered an optimistic take on
that prospect: “Our hospitals have
tents that would allow us to turn a
parking lot into an intensive-care
unit.” And he reiterated the rela-
tively small share of patients who
will require intensive care.
It’s probably true that, even if 2
million New Yorkers are infected
by June, and only 5 percent —
100,000 — need to be intubated,
that it wouldn’t happen all at once.
Still, the image of intensive-care
parking lots is less than encourag-
ing for anxious New Yorkers.
Seth Barron is associate editor of
City Journal, from which this col-
umn was adapted.
Twitter: @SethBarronNYC


The image of intensive-care parking

lots is less than encouraging.

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