Google v. Oracle, a decade-long war over the future of software, neared its end in the Supreme Court this week as a battle of metaphors. Over the course of two hours, justices and attorneys compared Java — the coding language that Oracle acquired in 2010 — to a restaurant menu, a hit song, a football team, an accounting system, the instructions for finding a blend of spices in a grocery store, a safecracking manual, and the QWERTY keyboard layout.
The reliance on familiar analogies wasn’t necessarily surprising. Google v. Oracle covers a complex question: what elements of computer code can be copyrighted, and if that code is covered by copyright, when it’s still legal to use pieces of it under fair use. The argument dates back a
The Supreme Court on Wednesday considered a multibillion-dollar copyright battle between
Google, with justices appearing to look for a resolution that would retain legal protections for software code without throwing the tech industry into disarray.
During about 90 minutes of oral arguments, the justices considered issues related to how software developers use application-program interfaces, or APIs—prewritten packages of computer code that allow programs, websites or apps to talk to one another.
Oracle has accused Google of illegally copying more than 11,000 lines of Java API code to develop its Android operating system, which runs more than two billion mobile devices world-wide.
Google’s unlicensed use of that code is no better than “if someone wanted to write a book that reproduced the 11,000 best lines of ‘Seinfeld’,” Oracle lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz told the court.
In a landmark moment in the history of the U.S. software industry, the Supreme Court held a hearing today on a long-running legal dispute that pits tech giants Oracle and Google against one another.
The case centers around whether or not a key foundation of today’s increasingly software-driven economy—blocks of code known as “application programming interfaces”, or APIs—is subject to copyright protection. Oracle claims Google infringed copyright when it used elements of the Oracle-owned Java programming language to build its Android operating system, which now powers billions of smartphones and other devices. Google denies the claim, which involves about 11,500 lines of code out of millions of new lines that it wrote to create Android. The two companies have been battling one another in the courts for over a decade, with Oracle demanding $9 billion in compensation.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court considered on Wednesday whether Google should have to pay Oracle billions of dollars in a long-running lawsuit over software used on many of the world’s smartphones, wrestling during a lively argument with the potentially enormous implications of what has been called the copyright case of the decade.
Several justices noted how consequential a decision in the case could be. “I’m concerned,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. told a lawyer for Google, “that, under your argument, all computer code is at risk of losing protection.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. noted the opposite concern. “We’re told that if we agree with Oracle, we will ruin our tech industry in the United States,” he said.
The justices heard the argument by telephone, and they used a series of low-tech analogies to test the two sides’ arguments. Their questions included ones on safecracking, football playbooks, typewriter keyboards,
Oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court over the copyright case between Oracle and Google
Google stands to pay Oracle nearly $9 billion for 11,000 lines of code in Android software if the court rules in Oracle’s favor
Big tech is throwing in behind Google while media and entertainment companies and the Trump administration is backing Oracle
The Supreme Court faces upending the tech industry by determining whether Google stole code from Oracle in building its Android operating system in a case that could redefine the meaning of the fair use doctrine. All eight justices on Wednesday grilled the tech giants’ legal teams as well the U.S. deputy solicitor general in a potentially far-reaching case.
Google said its incorporation of 11,500 lines of Oracle Java code constitutes fair use, while Oracle argued the action violated its ownership rights. The lawsuit has been working its way through the
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court wrestled at length Wednesday over a $9 billion copyright battle between tech giants Google and Oracle that has gone on for a decade.
But after an extended, 90-minute oral argument conducted by telephone in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic, several justices indicated their solution might be to send the case back to a lower court for even more review.
A majority of justices appeared to doubt that Google had the right to copy some of Oracle’s Java programming language to create Android, the world’s most popular mobile software. But they worried that a ruling against Google could set back software innovation by requiring costly duplication.
The two tech giants are clashing over the architecture of Google’s Android operating system, the dominant mobile software on the planet. At the center of the fight is a question of copyright protections for application programming interfaces, or APIs, which govern how code communicates with other bits of code.
Android was built in part by using APIs from Java, which was developed by Sun Microsystems. Oracle bought Sun in 2010 and later sued Google for allegedly illegal use of the software. Oracle has said it’s owed almost $9 billion in damages.
For Google, the investment in Android paid off. The software powers almost nine of
The case, which has broad ramifications for the software industry, has bounced around various courts over the years. In 2016, jurors ruled Google’s use of the Java code was permitted as “fair use” under federal copyright law. Two years later, a federal appeals court overturned that, ruling that there is “nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform.”
The dispute centers on the technical way software developers use application programming interfaces, or APIs. That’s the computer code that enables websites and applications to work together. APIs also reduce the amount of basic computer coding developers need to write with each program.
Google contends that it only used the pieces of Java code that it could not re-create when developing Android.
“Software programs have always worked with each other, that’s why you can take a
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday is set to consider whether to protect Alphabet Inc’s Google from a long-running lawsuit by Oracle Corp accusing it of infringing Oracle copyrights to build the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones.
The shorthanded court, down one justice following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Google’s appeal of a lower court ruling reviving the lawsuit in which Oracle has sought at least $8 billion in damages. The arguments will be held by teleconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Google will defend itself against Oracle’s charge that it stole code to build its Android operating system before the Supreme Court on Wednesday — and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s absence may be pivotal in a ruling that could shake up Silicon Valley’s business model.
The case is one of the first to be heard by the now 8-member court and Ginsberg’s death likely means one less vote in Oracle’s favor, legal scholars say. It also creates the possibility the remaining justices could split and leave the tech world in limbo on a crucial issue — who controls code that underpins much of modern technology.
“We need a decisive majority opinion in this case to settle critical copyright issues going forward in the digital age, and, without Ginsburg, we may not get it,” said Ralph Oman, the former register of copyrights under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.