Google has won the copyright case against Oracle who had blamed the Android maker of using a copyrighted piece of Java code. Since the beginning Google has been claiming that whatever Java code the company used in order to create the Android operating system, it was under “fair use”.
A jury in California’s Northern District Federal Court concluded that Google was not liable to pay Oracle $9 billion which the Java owner has been demanding.
There is a Java API owned by Oracle which allows outside programs to easily interact with Java programs. Android uses this Java API. In 2014 a federal appeals court had ruled that Oracle had a valid copyright claim on the Java API code, encouraging Oracle to sue Google for damages.
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This Verge link explains that the verdict of the court depended a lot on the archived emails sent by the Android founder Andy Rubin.
Java as you may know, is an open source programming language and people and organisations can use it to create software applications and user interface. The problem that Oracle has is that Google is making billions of dollars with the Java API that is owned by Oracle.
Google’s claim is that one, even if the company used the Java API, it was under fair use, and two, since the beginning Java has been an open source language and hence no licence fee needs to be paid in order to use it. Therefore, Google does not infringe Oracle’s copyright.
Most of the software developers have heaved a sigh of relief because had the verdict been in favour of Oracle, it would have set a precedent and would have encouraged more such legal actions.
In an emailed statement, one of Google’s spokesperson said, “Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products.”
The matter isn’t fully settled yet. Oracle says that it is going to pursue its case furher. One of the Oracle lawyers said, “We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”