Since Oracle sued Google in 2010, the software copyright dispute between Google and Oracle has been going on and for a decade. Now, the case has made new progress, with a group of technology companies and organizations supporting Google in a lawsuit against Oracle that could influence the future of software development, according to ZDnet.
The tech industry believes that if Google fails in its battle with Oracle, many of the industry’s existing software engineering practices will undergo a sweeping overhaul, and the pace of innovation will be delayed.
Looking back, in the latest round of legal action in March 2018, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals found Android to be infringing and ruled in Oracle’s favor. But Google did not stop there, and successfully won a review of the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2019 to rethink Oracle’s victory. Google also reminded the U.S. Supreme Court that Oracle could become a monopoly.
And in a legal filing filed Monday, a legal document, called “friend of the court,” provided additional information that showed that Mozilla, Medium, Cloudera, Reddit and others had joined calls for SCOTUS to overturn the federal court’s decision. and allows the API to remain protected by copyright, or at least reasonably used.
In the briefing, the groups argued that the Federal Circuit’s decision stifled innovation and competition by “granting strong in-house privileges, creating artificial barriers to entry for new participants and blocking new software development.”
On the other hand, in some ways, it is also thought that software interfaces are similar to online shopping sites because they usually follow almost the same “structure, order and organization” (SSO). In response, the briefing notes, “While shopping sites may try to come up with a new format for requesting billing and shipping data, common sense, technical standardization and economic efficiency have led to adoption across the industry, with sUsOs that are easy to use for everyuser and almost ubiquitous.”
“Developers and users of e-commerce and other payment sites have begun to expect and rely on standard SSos to check out forms, and when programming, both the developers of the operating system and the application developers of those operating systems expect and rely on the standard SSO of the API package,” it said.
In addition, the brief notes that the Federal Circuit Court’s decision obscures decades of copyright rules and precedents used by software engineers and may pose a risk. It also shows that, in general, software engineers will understand that they cannot copy someone else’s application source code unless they are licensed.
Similarly, the brief says that software engineers often understand that they can reuse API package SSos without a license without violating copyright laws. It is also common place because it allows developers to make their applications available to consumers quickly and effectively on a variety of existing platforms, operating systems or browsers.
“Forcing application developers to rewrite the code of hundreds of new APIs to make them available on new platforms is not only burdensome and expensive, but also risky because it can create new errors or incompatibilities that require extensive quality assurance and maintenance.”
Overall, from a legal point of view, these organizations have indicated to SCOTUS that the Federal Circuit Court’s decision that Oracle can enforce copyright protection on certain functional elements of Java SE should be overturned. Because they believe that there have been a number of previous legal cases that have set a precedent for the functional elements of a work not to enjoy copyright protection.
The brief adds that if SCOTUS discovers that the API is copyrighted, the company should still be able to use the API in accordance with the principle of reasonable use. This principle of fair use should be a legal principle that allows the use of copyrighted material without first obtaining permission from the copyright owner. Because developers often use APIs for “reasonable” purposes, such as following industry norms and best practices.
It’s worth noting that the final battle between Google and Oracle is scheduled for March.