Copyright lawsuit of the century ends with Google victory over Oracle
The US Supreme Court has granted Google an unequivocal triumph in what has been dubbed “the copyright case of the century.” A majority opinion of the court ruled that Google’s copying of parts of Oracle’s application programming interfaces (APIs) for the Java programming language is permitted as “fair use” under copyright law. ‘author.
The dispute between Oracle and Google dates back to 2005 when Google acquired Android and decided to use the programming language Java, then owned by Sun Microsystems until it was later acquired by Oracle. Google copied 37 Java API packages to develop a version of Java for the Android platform and allow programmers to use their Java skills to more easily migrate to Android. The packages included basic tasks for using the Java language, such as arithmetic, file access, user display, and text formatting. In 2010, Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement. Over the next decade, the dispute was argued twice in the district court and the Supreme Court appeals court agreed to hear the case.
The Supreme Court analyzed the four factors guiding the doctrine of “fair use” in copyright applied to Google’s copying of Java APIs. First, the copyrighted nature of Java APIs promotes fair use because the copied content is simply a programming interface, and does not implement code that tells the computer how to implement a task. According to the court, the value of the Java API derives largely from the value that computer programmers invest in learning the API system. “
The court also found that the use of Google was “transformative” in a way that “adds something new, with an additional purpose or a different character” to the original Java API. According to the Court, “Google’s use of the Sun Java API is aimed at creating new products. It seeks to expand the use and utility of Android based smartphones. Its new product offers programmers a highly creative and innovative tool for a smartphone environment ”.
Exploring the quantity of copies, the court found that while Google has copied around 11,500 lines of code, this is less than 0.5% of all of Oracle’s Java APIs. The Court then turned to the fourth and final fair dealing factor – the “effect” of the copy on the “market or value of the copyrighted work. The court ruled that Sun’s ability to compete in the Android market was uncertain and that uncertainty in Google’s actions was the source of Sun’s loss of revenue. The court also expressed concerns about creativity-related harm to the public if Oracle’s copyright over the Java API is applied to Google.
CLICK HERE to read the United States Supreme Court decision in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc.