Oracle and Google’s Java copyright case comes after Oracle filed a brief of responses reviewing the decade-old lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. Oracle claims that Google copied more than 11,000 lines of Java code for Android, which Google believes is fair use and that the copied code is not copyrighted.
Despite winning both lower court cases, Google appealed to a U.S. court of appeal late last year and challenged last year’s appeals court ruling. Today, the Trump administration recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court reject Google’s appeal.
Attorney General Noel Francisco said in court documents that Google’s “normal copy” of Java code into Android is not necessary to promote innovation. He also asked the court to give the U.S. government 10 minutes to debate its position in the case because of its interest in issues related to copyright law.
The key to this case is api (application programming interface), a set of routines, protocols, and tools used to build software applications. api is useful because developers don’t have to write new code from scratch to implement each new feature, or change the code for each new type of device. The question in this case is whether Google’s use of Oracle-owned Java api in Android is considered fair use?
Oracle argues that Google wants to have its own software platform to be able to enter the emerging mobile business. “But with an imminent existential crisis, they have no time to innovate.” In the briefing, Oracle did not talk about APIs, but emphasized that Google “replicated 11,330 lines of computer code from Java SE, as well as the intricacies of organization and relationships between the lines.”
Oracle also explains in the newsletter why they believe the API is indeed copyrighted, i.e. copyright law covers “computer programs” and that APIs or any other specific type of code is no exception.
“Unauthorized copying of this scale to competing products is clearly a copyright infringement,” the brief said. “If Google extracts 11,330 theme sentences from the entire structure of the encyclopedia or the paper to compete with the original, then Google cannot credibly argue that what it copies is not protected and that their copy is justified.” Software is no exception. “
Oracle’s view is that its api can be offered free of charge to people who want to build applications for computers and mobile devices, but the company does not allow anyone to use it on a competitive platform or embedded it in electronic devices.
The Trump administration, including U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt, of the Justice Department’s Civil Affairs Department, has publicly stated that “Java api is copyrighted” and that Oracle has “valid copyright” to the code.