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Supreme Court gives victory to Google in billionaire case

(CNN Business) — The Supreme Court awarded Google a victory in a decade-long software development case, holding that the tech giant did not commit copyright infringement against Oracle when it copied snippets of programming language to build its system. Android operating.

Google’s copy of Oracle’s so-called Java SE application programming interfaces was a fair use example, the court ruled in a 6-2 vote by Judge Stephen Breyer.

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In addition to settling a multi-million dollar dispute between tech titans Google and Oracle, the ruling helps affirm a long-standing practice in software development. But the Court declined to comment on the broader question of whether APIs are protected by copyright.

Google said the Court’s opinion “is a victory for consumers, interoperability and computing. The decision provides legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers.

In a statement, Oracle reiterated its claim that Google “stole” Java and used its economic dominance to fight a protracted legal battle.

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“The Google platform has gotten bigger and the market power is greater,” Oracle said. “The barriers to entry are higher and the ability to compete lower… This behavior is exactly why regulatory authorities around the world and in the United States are examining Google’s business practices.”

In its ruling for the Court, Breyer said that while traditional copyright concepts are difficult to apply in the context of software programming, Google copied “only what was needed to allow users to put their accumulated talents to work. in a new and transformative program.

A world in which Oracle was allowed to enforce a copyright claim, Breyer added, “would risk harming the public” because it would establish Oracle as a new guardian of the software code that others wanted to use.

“Only Oracle would have the key,” Breyer wrote. “The result could be very profitable for Oracle (or other companies that have copyrights in computer interfaces) … [pero] blocking would interfere with the basic creativity goals of copyright, not further. ‘

The majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito disagreed, while Judge Amy Coney Barrett did not participate.

In their disagreement, Thomas and Alito argued that assuming the code is copyrighted for the sake of argument and jumping to a fair use analysis “distorts” the result.

“The Oracle code in question here is copyrighted, and Google’s use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair,” argued the judges.

In their disagreement, Thomas and Alito argued that assuming the code is copyrighted for the sake of argument and jumping to a fair use analysis “distorts” the result.

“The Oracle code in question here is copyrighted, and Google’s use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair,” argued the judges.

In its oral arguments in October, Oracle said that Google’s conduct, if left unchecked, would ruin the software industry by making developers unable to be rewarded for their work when others used its code.

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