Creating software code from scratch can later become the basis of advanced developments for devices and operating systems. Developers with innovation in mind can take existing software and alter it to build new programs. In the case of Google vs. Oracle, the latter claims that Google has used Oracle’s copyrighted programming code in an Android operating system.
Oracle sued Google in 2010, and has been to trial multiple times since then and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the local government’s ruling in Google’s favor several times. The U.S. Supreme Court stated on November 15th that they would be hearing the case again, though no date has been set.
A Longtime Lawsuit
When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, along with that came ownership of source code for the Java programming language and its patents, libraries, and application programming interfaces (API). While the Java was made available for developers to use, there were licenses on implementing it on certain platforms like mobile devices.
Google developed its Android operating system over the Java language to create a mobile device platform. Oracle then filed a lawsuit with claims of copyright and patent violations. The defendant, Google, claimed that they were unaware of any infringements and using the APIs were within fair use allowances, as Java usually is open source.
The case has already gone through trials and the ruling has been overturned on several occasions since the original suit in 2010. Oracle is seeking roughly $8.8 billion in damages because the Android system has become so successful.
Securing the Software Without Cracking the Code
The overarching concern in the case is the fate of legal protection for software code. Google argued that a court ruling against them would result in upending the computer industry’s expectation that developers can use software interfaces freely to build new computer programs.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit stated that what Google did was not fair use. The ruling stated that using code for the same purpose as it was originally intended on a competing platform was unfair. While Java APIs from Oracle are still available, but a license is required to use the shortcuts on a competing platform or embed them in an electronic device.
Google’s Senior Vice President of Global Affairs was quoted in “The Verge” as saying that developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company’s software.
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