Supreme Court Accepts Landmark Case, Google vs Oracle

Published by Matt Fishman on

The Supreme Court has accepted a landmark case, Google vs. Oracle, to the list of upcoming cases it will hear. The case originated because “Google used [Java] to build Android”, and allowed “developers to write applications for Android using the Java language.” At the time, Java was owned by Sun Microsystems, but “after Oracle acquired Sun, it sued Google for copyright infringement.” The Supreme Court will seek to answer whether “copyright protection extends to a software interface” and “use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program”.

If the Supreme Court rules in Oracle’s favor, Google argues that “developers who have invested in learning free and open programming languages such as Java will be unable to use those skills to create programs for new platforms”. A group of 78 computer scientists have voiced their collective support for Google’s favor, reasoning “that the decisions [could] threaten to upend decades of settled expectations across the computer industry and chill continued innovation in the field.” The group includes 12 Turing Award winners (computer science’s most prestigious award) as well as other industry leaders.

On the other side, Oracle retorts that Google “refused Oracle’s offer of a license and copied the most recognizable portions of [their] work into a competing platform for the express purpose of capturing Oracle’s fan base.” This, Oracle claims “inflicted incalculable market harm on Oracle” and “is the epitome of copyright infringement.” Instead “Google could have written its own software platform without copying, and Google’s copying substantially harmed the actual and potential markets for Oracle’s copyrighted works”.


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