Supreme Court rules in favor of Google in copyright dispute with Oracle over Android software


Larry Page, CEO of Google Inc., right, speaks to the media as he arrives at court in San Jose, California, U.S., on Monday, September 19, 2011.

Ryan Anson | Bloomberg | fake images

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with Google against Oracle in a long-running copyright dispute over software used in Android, the mobile operating system.

The court’s decision was 6-2. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was not yet confirmed by the Senate when the case was argued in October, was not involved in the case.

The case concerned 12,000 lines of code that Google used to build Android that were copied from the Java application programming interface developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010. It was considered a historical dispute over what types of computer code are protected under US Copyright Law.

Oracle had claimed at some points that it was owed up to $ 9 billion, while Google claimed that its use of the code was covered by the fair use doctrine.

Oracle sued Google for the use of its code and won its case twice before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s decision.

Read more: The judges are wary of changing the tech industry in the Google v.

Judge Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, agreed that Google’s use of the code was protected by fair use.

“We concluded that in this case, in which Google re-implemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accumulated talents to work in a new and transformative program, the copy Google’s Sun Java API was fair use of that material as a matter of law, “Breyer wrote.

Breyer was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito disagreed.

The case, one of the most important in the term, presented a high-profile battle over competitive visions for the future of software development.

“The long-established practice of reusing software interfaces is critical to modern software development,” Google attorney, veteran Supreme Court attorney Tom Goldstein, told justices during arguments.

Originally, the case was scheduled to be heard the last period before it was delayed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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