The decade-long battle over code copied on Google’s Android operating system has ended in the United States Supreme Court.
Another engineer, Oracle, sued Google in 2010 for copyright infringement of the copied computer code.
Android is currently used in an estimated 70% of smartphones worldwide and can cost billions.
However, the Supreme Court unhooked Google and overturned the lower court’s decision to infringe copyright.
The court ruled 6 to 2 in support of Google.
The question was whether Google’s use of Oracle’s Java API (a “building block” widely used by programmers) would count as “fair use” under US copyright law. did.
If so, the fact that Google has been accused of copying over 11,000 lines of code is not a problem.
Stephen Breyer Justice, In his opinion“Allowing Oracle to exercise its copyright here risks harming the public,” he said.
With so many programmers using and in-depth knowledge of Oracle’s components, such a move turns computer code into a “lock that limits the future creativity of new programs.”
“Only Oracle will hold the key,” he warned.
Oracle has revealed that it has firmly opposed the court’s ruling, saying it has further strengthened Google and undermined the competitiveness of other companies.
“They stole Java and spent 10 years in proceedings so that only monopolies could do it,” said Dorian Daley, the company’s legal counsel. In the statement..
“That’s why regulators around the world and in the United States are considering Google’s business practices.”
Google, meanwhile, portrayed this decision as a victory for the entire software industry.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling on Google vs. Oracle is a huge victory for innovation, interoperability, and computing.” Written by Ken Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs of the company.
“Thanks to the support of the country’s leading innovators, software engineers and copyright scholars.”
The majority of judges agreed that Google’s copy of Java code (specific usage) was “fair use of the material.”
However, judges disagreed on how to apply traditional copyright law to computer code.
Judge Breyer expressed a majority in favor, admitting that “it is difficult to apply the traditional concept of copyright in the world of technology.”
However, in opposition, Judge Clarence Thomas writes that allowing fair use just because it allows the creation of new products effectively redefines the idea.
“The new definition reveals copyright,” he warned.
He also lamented that the majority did not decide whether the code was copyrighted, instead decided to save the question on another day and instead rely on fair use.
“The majority cannot square a fundamentally flawed fair use analysis with the discovery that the code declarations are copyrighted,” he writes about his peers.