The US Supreme Court has handed Google a major win in a long-running copyright battle with Oracle, ruling that the use of the Java programming language for the Android mobile operating system was “fair use”.
The 6-2 ruling had been closely watched as a key test of copyright in the digital era, and allows Google to avoid paying out billions to its technology rival.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the 39-page majority opinion that even if Google used copyrightable material, “the copying here at issue nonetheless constituted a fair use. Hence, Google’s copying did not violate the copyright law”.
The case revolved around whether copyright protection should be extended to application software interfaces (APIs), the bits of code that allow programs and apps to work together, and if so, whether Google’s implementation was a “fair use” of Oracle’s copyrighted material.
The decade-old case drew interest across the spectrum of technology firms and creative industries, and sparked heated debate on how much copyright protection should be afforded to bits of computer code.
Two separate jury trials ended with a determination that Google’s “software interface” did not unfairly use Java code, saving the Internet giant from a possible multibillion-dollar verdict.
But an appeals court in 2018 disagreed, saying that the software interface is entitled to copyright protection, prompting Google to take the case to the highest US court.
Oracle obtained the rights to Java in 2010 when it acquired Sun Microsystems – which had supported Google’s use of Java for Android – and sought $9bn in damages.
Google and many Silicon Valley allies have argued that extending copyright protection to APIs would threaten innovation in the digital world.
According to Google, a win for Oracle would “upend the longstanding expectation of software developers that they are free to use existing computer software interfaces to build new programs”.
Oracle backers said Google would walk away with “intellectual property theft” in a court victory, arguing that it would make it hard to protect any digital property from Chinese misappropriation.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Mars helicopter flight test promises Wright Brothers moment for NASA
US, China commit to climate cooperation ahead of key summit
Bush, in op-ed and book, steps into US migration debate
Videos pile pressure on US police over racism, killings
Nine dead in shooting at FedEx facility in US
Biden administration to invest $1.7bn to fight Covid variants
Japan PM first foreign leader at Biden White House
Chicago releases video of police shooting 13-year-old dead
Gunman kills eight, takes own life at FedEx site in Indianapolis: police