The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled this Monday that Google can legally make use of the essential fragments of the application programming interface (API) developed in Java by Oracle without this copy constituting a violation of the protection of rights laws of author, thus revoking a previous ruling favorable to Oracle.
“In reviewing that decision, we assume that the material was protected by copyright. But we maintain that the copy here in question does nevertheless constitute fair use. Therefore, Google’s copy did not violate copyright law. “, the Supreme Court of the USA has indicated in a decision adopted by six votes in favor and two against, in which one of the judges abstained.
In this way, the Supreme Court ends more than a decade of legal dispute between the two multinationals after Oracle denounced that Google had copied part of its Java interface for the development of the Android language.
In this sense, the High Court admits that Google copied approximately 11,500 lines of code from the API in question, which is equivalent to “only 0.4%” of the total, which consists of 2.86 million lines, therefore in considering “the amount and substantiality of the portion used” in this case he has considered that the 11,500 lines of code should be seen as a small part of a considerably larger whole.
“The Court concludes that Google’s copying of the API to re-implement a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accumulated talents to work in a new and transformative program, constituted a fair use of that material “, has ruled.
In 2014, the Court of Appeals of the Federal Court of Washington, had ruled in favor of Oracle by estimating that it could claim copyright for the Java code copied by Google for the development of Android without its consent. Also, in 2018, the same court found that Google had infringed copyright protection laws in favor of Oracle.