The Supreme Court has voted to overturn a high-profile copyright infringement suit against Google in what many experts believe is one of the most landmark rulings in the software industry. The search engine giant had been sued by Oracle for the use of Java code, a programming language that the latter had developed.
The ruling by the Supreme Court is a huge win for Google. It follows a 10-year legal batter between the two companies. In a vote of 6 against 2, the appellate court ruled that Google did not infringe upon any copyrights for using Java code. Oracle had argued successfully in lower courts that Google had used key pieces of the java programming framework to develop its popular Android mobile operating system.
In doing so, Oracle felt that the search giant had violated its copyright pertaining to the Java code. Nonetheless, Google maintained that even though it did use some of the Java code, it was all part of fair use and nothing else.
The ruling by the Supreme Court was highly anticipated by legal experts and players in the software industry. Many were waiting to see if it is in fact possible to copyright code and enforce such rights in law. If indeed the Supreme Court had voted the other way, the legal precedent created would have had far-reaching consequences on how software is created and distributed.
Many tech experts argued that such a vote would make it so hard for independent developers to leverage available technology to create powerful software. but Oracle maintains that even though it understands fair use policies as far as code goes, what Google did was nothing but stealing. A statement released by the lawyer representing Oracle slammed the ruling arguing that it gives Google absolute power to do whatever they want.
The attorney also added that it was clear Google’s influence in the tech space and its “monopoly” as one of the biggest tech companies in the world made sure that it could not be held accountable. The lawyer also added that plain and simple, Google “stole Java” and spent 10 years litigating against any legal action as any “monopolistic” company would do. Nonetheless, Google welcomed the ruling calling it a win for consumers.
The search engine giant noted that the decision by the court is also a win for interoperability in computer technology. Google added that the ruling will also open up the developer industry to more creativity and innovation moving into the future. The search engine giant received a lot of support during the hearing from other major tech companies and advocacy groups as well.
For instance, IBM and Microsoft were some of the two major tech companies that voiced their support for Google during the Supreme Court trial. IBM has in fact said before that “computer interfaces are not copyrightable”, a position that Google also holds amongst other companies. The Supreme Court ruling will surely come as a huge win for these tech companies.