Google Won Long-Lasting Case against Oracle

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The search giant has won a 6-year court case launched by Oracle. The latter accused Google of infringing its copyright by using 11,500 lines of Java code in Android OS. The court decided that Google’s use of 37 Java APIs was fair use. This is good news for developers, who typically rely on free access to APIs to develop 3rd-party services.

Oracle claimed that Google’s use of its proprietary Java code exceeded fair use. The company was seeking damages of up to $9bn. As you know, Android is the most popular mobile OS of today, accounting for 1.4 billion monthly active users and a market share of more than 80%.In addition, this court ruling sets a strong precedent in a software industry where programs and apps are often constructed from various building blocks of code that already exist. So if the owner of the original code language can claim ownership over systems using parts of its code, that might have a serious dampening effect on software developers.

When Android was developed, it partly used Java to build its API. Java was a widely used programming language, developed by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s. Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 and made attempts to negotiate for a deal with Google over licensing the Java APIs. After these attempts failed, Oracle filed a lawsuit over copyright and patent infringement.

In 2012, a judge sided with Google, saying that APIs can’t be copyrighted, effectively dismissing Oracle’s case that Google’s use of the Java APIs infringed upon Oracle’s copyright. The judge cited the Copyright Act and said that the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use. However, in 2014 the federal judge reversed the original ruling and remanded the case back to the district court to be retried.

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