Oracle and Google’s decade-long copyright battle is finally expected to come to an end. According tomedia reports, the U.S. Supreme Court on the 7th local time, began to hear Google and Oracle on the Android phone program code copyright dispute and make a final ruling.
Lei Feng learned that the dispute between Oracle and Google over Java began in 2009.
Oracle bought Sun in 2009 for $7.4 billion, which also includes the latter’s star software asset, Java Revenue.
The next year, Oracle filed an infringement lawsuit against Google. Oracle has found that Google abused the Java API in Android development, arguing that Google violated its intellectual property by copying more than 11,330 lines of code directly. Oracle has filed a $9.3 billion infringement claim against Google.
Google argues that Oracle’s sky-high claims are outrageous, that they use the Java programming language fairly under U.S. copyright law, that only 3% of the interfaces are involved, and that API software interfaces should not be considered patents, not to mention that the Android platform is free.
To this end, the two sides began a fierce battle, opened a long copyright dispute lawsuit, known as the first copyright case in nearly a decade. Late last year, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The battle between Oracle and Google will come to an end after the ruling was announced.
Ten years of appeal, what exactly is Oracle and Google fighting for?
Over the past decade, Oracle and Google have been fighting over what in the endless cycle of prosecution, judgment, indecision and appeal.
Let’s briefly review the history of litigation:
In 2010, Oracle sued Google for infringement of seven Java-related patents and copyrights, seeking damages of billions of dollars.
In May 2012, a judge in federal court in San Francisco, also known as the Northern District of California, ruled that Java APIs were not copyrighted and free for anyone to use;
In 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned part of the first-instance ruling that copyright protection of the software must be respected.
Google appealed, and in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Google’s appeal. The lawsuit returns to federal court in San Francisco, which hears Google’s other “fair use” argument.
In May 2016, a federal court in San Francisco reviewed and ruled that Google’s actions were reasonable and exempt from copyright damages.
Oracle appealed, and in March 2018, an appeals court again ruled against Google for infringement, with Oracle seeking $8.8 billion in damages.
In November 2019, following the trial of 78 computer scientists, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Google’s appeal and will review the previous ruling.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for the dispute.
Oracle’s point of action is not that Google copied the Java language, but that it used a line to copy 37 JavaAPI segments that belong to Oracle without an agreement.
But Google felt particularly aggrieved, saying there was nothing wrong with that. So, google’s view is that the Java aspects it copies — function names, parameter types, and so on — are fully in line with these exceptions, and that the principle of fair use of copyright allows for such replication.
In other words, the long legal battle has focused on whether or to what extent the API is also protected by copyright law.
The API, or Application Interface, is a convention for connecting different components of a software system, also known as an application programming interface.
The main purpose of the application interface is to provide applications and developers with the ability to access a set of routines without having to access the source code or understand the details of the internal working mechanism, mainly divided into Windows API and linux API.
What’s more, it’s also interesting to see how the federal courts and appeals courts in San Francisco have been firm in their support for Google and Oracle for a decade, respectively, in a decade of recurring appeals from Oracle and Google.
Another concern is that the protection boundaries of computer software have always been a difficult issue to determine. At first, most countries did not approve of copyright law protection procedures, the United States was the first to promote, under its strong political and economic pressure, countries gradually accepted the procedure should be protected as a work of the request. Computer programs are divided into source programs and target programs. The API is somewhere between the source and target programs, so this is another issue that is difficult to determine.
This is one of the main reasons why Oracle and Google have failed to make a mistake in a decade.
Ironically, according tomedia arstechnica, Oracle’s history is in fact a history of plagiarism, by copying IBM’s SQL made a fortune. If true, these histories are undoubtedly at conflict with its current position on API copyright.
Essentially, an API is a language in which computer programs communicate with each other, and a language like SQL or Java can be said to be an API.
So if Oracle wins this legal battle, it’s killing itself 40 years ago.
At the same time, some analysts believe that if Oracle eventually wins the case, it will bring huge confusion to the entire software industry. Treating the Java API as a copyrighted product gives Oracle enormous control and monopoly over the development of Java-compatible programs, hindering the development capabilities of new entry.
Oracle vs Google, win or lose?
Oracle has long been a controversial company.
That starts with its founder, Larry Ellison.
In 1977, Ellison founded his own software development lab with colleague Robert Miner based on IBM’s technology and developed the first database product (SQL), named Oracle.
Oracle doesn’t agree with claims that it copied SQL, saying, “It’s an incorrect assumption to compare apples with broccoli and completely out of touch with the facts.” “
Still, Oracle’s founder is seen as a disgrace, and its founder has been named “Silicon Valley’s bad boy.”
Larry Ellison, Oracle’s founder under the title “Silicon Valley Bad Boy”, has always been a bad card player. The billionaire is keen to drive the company’s transformation by buying big, arguing that acquisitions are the best way to eliminate competitors.
Since 2010, the veteran software giant has made a full transition to a cloud computing business model and in recent years has been betting on “cloud autonomy.” However, because of the slow start and the time required to consolidate the acquisition business, its traditional database business is eaten up by the cloud data business.
At the same time, the cloud computing market is highly competitive, with new and old rivals catching up quickly. According to a report released in July by Gartner, a research firm, Amazon AWS and Microsoft are at the top of the IaaS and PaaS markets, while Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud are also in the top three, while Oracle is not in the top three in the best database market, and its first SaaS market share is no match for Microsoft and Salesforce.
Against the backdrop of a setback in the cloud business, analysts speculate that Oracle’s obsession may well be to give itself more say, because if Oracle wins, it proves that the API is protected by copyright, and that Oracle may monopolize and control it.
On top of that, analysts say that even a narrow victory for Google could cause chaos in the software industry, as Oracle and Google’s decade-long API battle has shaken the industry, and Oracle was the first to launch an API copyright lawsuit, but not the last.
On the other hand, according tomedia reports, the outcome of the lawsuit against Oracle and Google, there is speculation that the likely winner is Oracle.
For one, Oracle has Trump behind it. Oracle’s founder has been a clear supporter of Mr. Trump, having been the last to join the deal in the TikTok case and lost money to Microsoft, but eventually Oracle struck a deal with TikTok.
Second, Oracle is not facing antitrust litigation pressure. Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have all been the subject of antitrust, but Oracle is not. If Oracle wins the case and will monopolize the market, I’m afraid it’s a little light-talking.
So the decade-long copyright lawsuit is still a slim one for Google.
But we can’t predict exactly what will happen.