A jury in the Oracle vs Google case has found that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s copyrights. It declared that Google’s use of 37 Java API in Android is qualified as fair use.
Bottom line is that Google has won, at least this round. Oracle is ready to appeal this decision but for the moment, Google can celebrate this win and so can the entire software developer community. This case has scared the entire software industry as it cast doubts shadow the way APIs are used in the programming world.
[Tweet “Google defeats Oracle. Software industry can breathe again. #OracleVsGoogle”]
Brief history of the dispute
If you are not aware of the issue, Oracle has sued Google for $9.3 billion for using Java code in Android.
Google bought Android in the year 2005 and decided to use Java to develop it mobile operating system. At that time, Java was still owned by Sun Microsystems. An agreement between Google and Sun over the use of Java could not be reached and Google moved on to develop code (that it could not get from Sun) on its own.
Trouble started when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems. It termed Google’s effort to rewrite the code as illegal and filed a lawsuit against Google in 2010. Among many things, it listed the use of 37 Java APIs in Android.
Did Google really copy code from Java?
That’s kind of funny. While no major code had been duplicated, as per FOSSBytes, 9 lines of code slipped into Android from Java. This was a simple rangeCheck method. Oracle took it as a base to accuse Google of copying its code and filed a long list of accusation.
This particular case of 9 stolen lines of code, however, was settled for a sum of $0. However, these 9 lines of code prepared the base for this $9 billion lawsuit.
What happens next?
Google is clearly elated at this verdict. A Google 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,”
However, Oracle is not ready to give up yet. Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley hinted that they will go for appeal against this jury verdict:
“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.”
The game might not be over yet, but Google certainly has won the first round. Let’s wait and watch for the next rounds.