Google victoryHey, wanna hear some big news? The U.S. Supreme Court finally ends a decade-long battle between Google and Oracle, handing Google a landmark victory and sending its share price up over 4%. Fun times.
The pair have been at each other's throats for years over supposedly copied code in Google's Android operating system. Tech titan Oracle first sued Google in 2010 for copyright infringement, claiming $9 billion in damages. Oracle said that Google had “replicated the structure, sequence, and organization” of over 11,000 lines of Oracle's original code and Application Programming Interface (API); parts of which were used to build Android’s operating system. We won't get into the gritty details (over 10 years, you can imagine there are quite a few), but the debate has turned into one of the biggest software development cases in a while.
It’s pretty rare that big tech would end up in the Supreme Court, and the court actually ignored a recommendation by the Solicitor General that it should reject the case, possibly because it would have such real implications for the growing tech industry and big tech companies going forward. It’s commonplace in Silicon Valley to freely use parts of other company’s software code to develop apps and products, and if the court had ruled in favor of Oracle, effectively allowing them to place copyright on APIs; that would mean an increase in the power of the dominant tech companies that control the most widely used technologies, which could impact competition.
Luckily, the court found that Google’s use of the code was “fair use” because it only used parts of the language to create a “new and transformative program”, which would foster innovation and competition. Justice Stephen Breyer, in his written opinion, said that "to allow enforcement of Oracle's copyright here would risk harm to the public".
Strong win for Google there.