Recently, on 26th May 2016, a jury in California's Northern District federal court declared that Google's use of copyright-protected code in Android was fair use, freeing it of any liability. Oracle, which controls the copyright on the code, had been seeking $9 billion for the use of the code.
Before, in 2014 a federal appeals court ruled that Oracle has a valid copyright claim on the API code, potentially putting Google on the hook for billions of dollars in damages. (The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.) In the latest round, Google argued that Android's reimplementation of the API constituted fair use, which would allow use of the code without invalidating Oracle's copyright. Ultimately, the jury found that case convincing.
Google has won a six-year court case brought by software firm Oracle, which claimed Google had infringed its copyright by using 11,500 lines of Java code in its Android operating system.
The jury ruled that Google’s use of 37 Java APIs (application programming interfaces) was fair use. The news will be welcomed by developers, who typically rely on free access to APIs to develop third-party services.
Oracle had contested that Google’s use of its proprietary Java code exceeded fair use, and was seeking damages of up to $9 billion. Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system, with 1.4 billion monthly active users worldwide and a market share of more than 80%. Those users downloaded 65bn apps in 2015 alone.
Google wins six-year legal battle with Oracle over Android code copyright
More importantly, the “fair use” decision in this case sets a strong precedent in an industry where programs and apps are often as much constructed from various building blocks of code that already exist as they are from whole cloth.
If the company that owns the original code language – as Oracle does with Java – can claim ownership over systems which use parts of its code, in varying sizes, that might have a serious dampening effect on developers, few of whom have Google’s deep pockets and batteries of legal artillery to call into battle in their defense.
That means today’s verdict marks a victory for Google of the latest battle in a years-long war between these two titanic companies. It will probably not be the last, as Oracle is likely to appeal.
This victory has been a lot of Google in the world of technology experts and supporters agree. In particular there are 26 thousand messages of support via Twitter.