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The US Supreme Court in a famous case that went back and forth for more than a decade has recently decided in favor of Google. The case was dealing a dispute with Oracle over the use of Google of Java codes in its Android. However, the top court ruled that the act of Google copying a small fraction of the Java API did not infringe in any manner on Oracle copyrights. It was ruled by a 6-2 vote. The court also represented Google’s use as fair use.
“Google’s copying of the Java SE (Standard Edition) API, which included lines of code to allow programmers to work in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material. The fact that computer programs are primarily functional makes it difficult to apply traditional copyright concepts in that technological world,” the court said. The decree in favor of Google was issued on April 5, 2021, and arguments, in this case, were heard on October 7, 2020.
In a statement which was given in response to the ruling, Oracle remained adamant on its stand that Google misused, even stole, Java. “The Google platform just got bigger and market power greater—the barriers to entry higher and the ability to compete lower. They stole Java and spent a decade litigating as only a monopolist can. This behavior is exactly why regulatory authorities around the world and in the United States are examining Google’s business practices,” said Dorian Daley who is the executive vice president and general counsel at Oracle.
The court said in the ruling, “Google copied roughly 11,500 lines of code from Java SE, specifically from the Java API, to work with Android. But that was just 0.4 percent of the entire API at issue, out of 2.86 million lines of code.”
Oracle acquired Java founder Sun Microsystems in the year 2010. And within a short period of time, Oracle decided to file a lawsuit against Google where it alleged Google’s Android software of infringing various patents and copyrights of Oracle. Oracle further sought appropriate remedies for the alleged infringements from the court. The case was originally filed during the high peak of COVID-19 and finally made its way straight to the Supreme Court. Earlier, lower courts found Google guilty of infringement, while a US Court of Appeals reversed their decision and decided against Oracle.
The case is known as Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., No. 18-956