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Developers welcome ruling in Google’s battle with Oracle over Java

A San Francisco court has confirmed that copyright laws allow fair use of Java APIs in Oracle’s six-year battle with Google over Android

Developers have welcomed the ruling that Google’s use of Java in its Android mobile operating system did not infringe Oracle’s copyright – but the six-year battle may still not be over.

The copyright and patents to Java were transferred to Oracle when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010 for infringing its copyrights on the Java programming language by using Java application programming interfaces (APIs) while building Android.

In 2012, a jury found that although Google had copied the “overall structure, sequence and organisation” of 37 Java APIs, it had not violated Oracle’s copyright because APIs are free for everyone to use under the US Copyright Act.

Oracle appealed against the ruling, extending the court battle for nearly four years. In 2013, the federal circuit court of appeals heard Oracle’s case again, and in May 2014 reversed the earlier ruling and ordered a retrial to examine whether Google’s actions constituted “fair use”.

In the retrial, Google argued that extending copyright protection to APIs would threaten innovation, and the San Francisco jury agreed that copyright law did allow “fair use” of the Java APIs.

Google said in a statement that the 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.

Developers, who rely on free access to APIs to develop third-party services, have welcomed the ruling because of fears that a victory for Oracle could spark other similar legal actions that could threaten developers’ rights to make their code work with other widely used software. 

However, the battle may not be over because Oracle has again said it will appeal against the latest ruling in the US Supreme Court, according to the BBC.

Oracle lawyer Dorian Daley said the company strongly believed that Google developed Android by “illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market”.

Daley added: “Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behaviour. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal.” ................................................

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