Awarded The US Supreme Court ruled that Google Inc.’s use of Oracle-owned Java API code elements to build an Android operating system does not violate federal copyright law.
The Supreme Court said: Copying the API to re-implement the user interface, taking only what is required to allow users to put their accumulated talents to work in new and transformative software, constitutes a fair use of this material.
The Supreme Court overturned an earlier federal ruling that found Google’s use of the API to be infringing and unfair use under US copyright law.
The Supreme Court opinion concluded that APIs – which allow programmers to access other code – are significantly different from other types of computer software.
Judge (Stephen Breyer) Stephen Breyer said: Allowing Oracle to enforce copyright on copied lines of code harms the public by limiting the future creativity of new software.
The decision aims to place special emphasis on APIs as a category, and that fair use can play an important role in determining the legal scope of copyright for computer software.
Google and Oracle have both fought over the possibility of interoperability for Java on Android for more than 10 years now, and has spread to three courts and two separate appeals.
Oracle and Google, two tech giants with a combined annual revenue of more than $ 175 billion, have been in conflict since Oracle sued for copyright infringement in 2010.
Google has appealed a 2018 ruling to revive the lawsuit, which spares Google from judging potentially serious damages.
Oracle was seeking more than $ 8 billion, but renewed estimates rose from $ 20 billion to $ 30 billion.
The lawsuit accused Google of theft by copying 11,330 lines of Java code as well as the way it is structured in order to create Android and reap billions of dollars in revenue.
Oracle wants to enforce copyright on those lines of code in the Android database, which represents 37 separate APIs.
Google said: It did not copy the Java language, but it used elements of Java code necessary to run the platform, and the federal copyright law does not protect operating methods.
The two companies explained that issuing a ruling against them would harm innovation, as Google said: The shortcut commands that it copied in the Android system help developers write programs to work across platforms, which is a key to software innovation and the information age, while Oracle said: developers will not create new programs and they are They know it is being stolen.