Google took a major victory on Monday in a long-running case against software company Oracle. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Google was entitled to use Oracle software code for Android, the software that runs most smartphones worldwide.
The case goes back more than ten years. Oracle sued Google in 2010 for copyright infringement. The company claimed damages of more than $ 8 billion ($ 6.77 billion). Higher estimates could also run into the tens of billions if the judge had ruled Oracle right.
Oracle accused Google of plagiarizing its Java software by copying 11,330 lines of code and the way they were organized.
Google stated that it did not copy a computer program, but only copy elements of Java’s code necessary to operate software. With a so-called API different types of software can talk to each other. US copyright law does not apply to these types of practices.
A majority of the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Google has not violated the US federal copyright law. A lower court previously ruled correctly that the use of the Oracle software fell under so-called “fair use”.
In the preceding years, decisions about the alleged copyright infringement and objections to it were alternately in favor of both Google and Oracle.
The Supreme Court has now closed it, saying that Oracle would “lock” software development if it can enforce copyrights on its APIs. Oracle argues that it has no reason to develop this type of software if it cannot be commercially exploited in this way.