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The Supreme Court endorses that Java is used in Android after disputing the future of development



In the legal battle in which Google and Oracle have been involved for more than 10 years over Copyright issues and the use of Java code without a license by Mountain View, the United States Supreme Court has made a decision today. The court, by majority 6 - 2, agrees with Google, which annuls the previous decision that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal had made in 2018. This saves the Android firm from paying millions of dollars of money and also lays legal foundations for future copyright and software license use.


The ruling says that "Google's copy of the Java SE API, which included only the lines of code necessary to allow programmers to put their accumulated talents to use in a transformative new program, was a fair use of that material as a matter of law ". The case is a reference when it comes to elucidating how copyright rules affect software development and in this case it means that the use of Java on Android is legitimate.








How the end of the battle between Google and Oracle for the use of Java on Android can change the future of software development





Since 2012, Oracle and Google have been in the middle of a legal dispute over Google's use of Java APIs on Android. On September 7, 2020, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the arguments of both companies via videoconference seeking to resolve one of the longest legal complaints in the industry. If it has caused so much attention, it is not only because it involves two technological giants, but also because the final decision can define the future of software development against copyright.



Oracle owns but Google has made fair use




Java Android



The ruling begins by stating that "Oracle America owns the copyright to Java SE, a computing platform that uses the popular Java computer programming language." He also recalls that "in 2005, Google acquired Android and tried to build a new software platform for mobile devices. To enable the millions of programmers familiar with the Java programming language to work with its new Android platform, Google copied about 11,500 lines of code from the Java SE program. The copied lines are part of a tool called the application programming interface (API). "



Throughout the litigation, other courts "lower" than this Supreme Court have considered whether the owner of Java SE could register copyright of the copied API lines, and if so, whether the Google copy constituted a "fair use" of that material. The Federal Circuit held that the copied lines are capable of being protected by copyright.







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It should be remembered that in the past after a jury found Google to be right on fair use, the Federal Circuit revoked the sentence because the Google copy did not make a legitimate use in terms of rights.



Meanwhile, Mountain View and its advocates claim that Google's copy of the Java SE API, which included only the lines of code that were necessary to allow programmers to put their accumulated talents to use in a new and transformer, was a fair use of that material as a matter of copyright.



In 2019, the Supreme Court that has issued its conclusions today agreed to hear Google's appeal to the ruling of the aforementioned federal court that ruled that Android violated Oracle's copyright by using Java code without a license. In the statements before the Supreme Court, Oracle claimed that Google's use of Java snippets was the "epitome of copyright infringement" and it had done "incalculable damage to the market."



Google saw it differently. The search company said Oracle wanted "nothing less than full control" of the development community Java despite being "free and open".



Opinions of the judges who do not agree with the decision




judge sentence



For their part, the two judges who do not agree with the decision have presented their positions. As the final sentence shows, they explain that “Oracle spent years developing a programming language which successfully attracted software developers, thereby increasing the value of Oracle's products. "



Meanwhile, “Google sought a license to use this language on Android, the operating system it was developing for mobile phones. But when the companies could not agree on the conditions, Google limited itself to verbatim copying 11,500 lines of code”. As a result, this led to the loss of much of Oracle's value in its union with Amazon, the one in Mountain View made tens of billions of dollars and established its position as the owner of the largest mobile operating system in the world. " And this, broadly speaking, led two of the Supreme Court justices to conclude that the use was not fair.



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Index



If this decision is important, it is because does not affect only Oracle and Google. Beyond whether the copyright has been infringed, there is the debate about fair use since this legal battle began. Oracle claims it owns copyrights to the Java API and Google infringed them with Android.



Google, for its part, has defended its position by explaining that the software industry has never operated like this and "restricting APIs will inhibit innovation". Such a decision would have an impact on many programmers choosing to avoid using third-party APIs, which would ultimately limit interoperability. "With pleasure we would have stopped using Java SE declarations, but the language only allowed us to use those", Google has expressed during the call of arguments in the Supreme Court.



Following this decision, Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs at Google, has stated that “the clear judgment of the Supreme Court is a win for consumers, interoperability and computing. The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers. "



Among the factors defended by Google is "transformative use", if it has an additional purpose or a different character and if it does not replace the original. Factors that they did fit according to Google with the use of Java on AndroidIt was aimed at different environments and the Java APIs had not yet been used on smartphones. According to Oracle, this transformed usage would not exist since the declarations have the same function on the two platforms.