Supreme Court Rules Google Did Not Violate Copyright Law When it Used Oracle Code for Androids


Google did not infringe Oracle’s copyright when it used that company’s programming code in the Android cellphone operating system, the Supreme Court ruled this morning overturning a lower court ruling that favored Oracle.

Oracle had been seeking an estimated $9 billion in damages in the decade-old litigation between the tech companies that could have changed the rules of the road for the software industry.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the 6-2 decision for the high court in Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., court file 18-956. The case came to the court on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion that Justice Samuel Alito joined. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the case. She was not yet a member of the court when the case was heard telephonically Oct. 7, 2020.

Austin, Texas-based Oracle America Inc., is the current owner of a copyright in Java SE, a computer program that uses the popular Java computer programming language. Google, without permission, copied a portion of that program that enables a programmer to call up prewritten software that, together with the computer’s hardware, will carry out a large number of specific tasks, Breyer wrote for the court.

Lower courts considered whether Java SE’s owner could copyright the portion that Mountain View, California-based Google copied, and if so, whether Google’s copying nonetheless constituted a “fair use” of that material, which would free Google from copyright liability.

The Federal Circuit ruled for Oracle, finding Google’s copying was not a “fair use.”

The Supreme Court disagreed, finding that even if it is assumed the material was copyrightable, Google’s copying constituted a fair use and therefore did not violate the copyright law.

“We reach the conclusion that in this case, where Google reimplemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google’s copying … was a fair use of that material as a matter of law,” Breyer wrote.

Oracle promptly reacted to the ruling saying it means “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,” Oracle said, according to Bloomberg News. “This behavior is exactly why regulatory authorities around the world and in the United States are examining Google’s business practices.”

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

 From The Epoch Times

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