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Supreme Court hands Google a victory in a multibillion-dollar case against Oracle

Summary

The Supreme Court has handed Google a win in a decade-old case in software development, holding that the technology giant did not commit copyright infringement against Oracle when it copied snippets of programming language to build its Android operating system.

 

Quotes

Quote

Google's copying of so-called application programming interfaces from Oracle's Java SE was an example of fair use, the court held in a 6-2 decision authored by Justice Stephen Breyer.

 

In addition to resolving a multibillion-dollar dispute between the tech titans, the ruling helps affirm a longstanding practice in software development. But the Court declined to weigh in on the broader question of whether APIs are copyrightable.

 

Google said the Court's opinion "is a victory for consumers, interoperability, and computer science. The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers."

 

In a statement, Oracle reiterated its allegation that Google "stole" Java and used its economic dominance to fight a protracted legal battle.

 

"The Google platform just got bigger and market power greater," Oracle said. "The barriers to entry higher and the ability to compete lower .... This behavior is exactly why regulatory authorities around the world and in the United States are examining Google's business practices."

 

Writing for the Court, Breyer said that while it is difficult to apply traditional copyright concepts in the context of software programming, Google copied "only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program."

 

A world where Oracle was allowed to enforce a copyright claim, Breyer added, "would risk harm to the public" because it would establish Oracle as a new gatekeeper for software code others wanted to use.

 

"Oracle alone would hold the key," Breyer wrote. "The result could well prove highly profitable to Oracle (or other firms holding a copyright in computer interfaces) ... [but] the lock would interfere with, not further, copyright's basic creativity objectives."

 

Joining the majority opinion were Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, while Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate.

 

In their dissent, Thomas and Alito argued that assuming the code is copyrightable for argument's sake and skipping to a fair-use analysis "distorts" the outcome.

 

"Oracle's code at issue here is copyrightable, and Google's use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair," the justices argued.

In oral arguments in October, Oracle said that Google's conduct, left unchecked, would ruin the software industry by making it so that developers could not be rewarded for their work when others used their code.

 

Google argued that a win for Oracle would destroy the software industry by erecting enormous copyright hurdles for developers and forcing them either to reinvent the wheel every time they wanted to instruct a computer to do something, or to pay licensing fees to the most dominant software companies for the right to carry out simple, mundane tasks.

 

Oracle had previously said Google should pay $9 billion to reflect the alleged copyright violation.

 

Central to the legal battle was software that Oracle claimed Google stole when it was designing its Android mobile platform for app developers.

 

The software in question was made using helper code known as application programming interfaces, or APIs, that are akin to building blocks that developers could plug into a larger program. APIs are ubiquitous in today's highly networked information economy, in which apps of different types and from different providers need to be able to work together and share data in order to serve consumers.

The law treats computer programs as generally copyrightable. But APIs are different, Google argued, because they involve little creative expression and are simply used by developers as shorthand to invoke groups of other instructions supported by the programming language.

 

"The Court's decision saves Google potentially billions of dollars in damages, and is likely to be well-received by the many programmers, computer scientists, and industry groups whose amicus briefs spoke out against the Federal Circuit's decision to reverse the jury's finding of fair use at trial," said Stefan Szpajda, an intellectual property lawyer at the firm Dorsey & Whitney.

 

But, Szpajda said, the fact that the Court did not directly deal with the copyrightability of APIs will likely invite future similar lawsuits.

 

 

My thoughts

Looks like I still have a job, so thats always nice! 

 

Sources

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/supreme-court-hands-google-a-victory-in-a-multibillion-dollar-case-against-oracle/ar-BB1fjV24

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4 hours ago, G3nnaro said:

holding that the technology giant did not commit copyright infringement against Oracle when it copied snippets of programming language to build its Android operating system.

*phew* This was a case that has hung around in the back of my mind literally since high school, and I knew it was bad then. Knowing a lot more CS (specifically Java, FWIW) now, it's even more pointless.

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1 minute ago, AbydosOne said:

*phew* This was a case that has hung around in the back of my mind literally since high school, and I knew it was bad then. Knowing a lot more CS (specifically Java, FWIW), it's even more pointless.

LOL I remember talking about it in my high school networking class. What a time to be alive!

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There is an old African proverb/saying that comes to mind here

 

"When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers"

(I'm paraphrasing here, allergies got me so hard I barely remember my own name)

So rise up, all ye lost ones, as one, we'll claw the clouds

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Thank goodness. Though, really, Oracle was really shortsighted (shocker that) in its goals here. In the world in which it wins, IBM sues it out of existence for the exact same things.

 

Happy to see sum() can continue.

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1 hour ago, spartaman64 said:

thank god. this could have set a really dangerous precedence 

I take it you've not seen the ugly details of SCO vs IBM? It was basically the same posit: copying code was infringement, and that bloody case has gone on so long it's nearly old enough to legally drink.

So rise up, all ye lost ones, as one, we'll claw the clouds

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3 hours ago, G3nnaro said:

Summary

The Supreme Court has handed Google a win in a decade-old case in software development, holding that the technology giant did not commit copyright infringement against Oracle when it copied snippets of programming language to build its Android operating system.

 

About time.

 

And honestly Oracle has done nothing but sit on and wreck products they acquire, they are kinda like the EA of business software in that regard. Oracle acquired companies that were a competitive threat to them, and then let them drown.

 

As for Google/Android... again Android should never have used Java as the basis of their product, because that ultimately did a lot of harm to it.

 

API's should not be copyrightable if they are published. If they aren't published then they are internal and can't be relied on for future functionality, but public API's should never change, and programming languages that depreciate functionality, are themselves functionally broken.

 

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public String RantAboutJava() {

 

I was never a big fan of the fact that Android is so heavily Java-based.

 

"We're building this wonderful free and open source operating system - but yeah, for the apps for it, we aren't going to use one of the many languages with non-profit organisations dedicated to maintaining them; we're going to choose the one which is owned by a huge multinational for-profit entity which could at any moment decide to completely f**k with it for their own gain".

 

Also, may I remind you that Java's website literally looks like this. In 2021.

image.thumb.png.83efc8081faeebbcdb8f5142bb5f5e30.png

 

String conclusion = "I don't really like Java that much";

return conclusion;

 

}

 

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pythonmegapixel

into tech, public transport and architecture // amateur programmer // youtuber // beginner photographer

Thanks for reading all this by the way!

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2 hours ago, Radium_Angel said:

I take it you've not seen the ugly details of SCO vs IBM? It was basically the same posit: copying code was infringement, and that bloody case has gone on so long it's nearly old enough to legally drink.

You're aware that case has been closed (for some time) and left SCO basically owing IBM some very heavy bags with dollars. US, not Canadian, Cuban or even Aussie coin 😉

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Oracle sorta fell off 

ƆԀ S₱▓Ɇ▓cs: i7 6ʇɥפᴉƎ00K (4.4ghz), Asus DeLuxe X99A II, GT҉X҉1҉0҉8҉0 Zotac Amp ExTrꍟꎭe),Si6F4Gb D???????r PlatinUm, EVGA G2 Sǝʌǝᘉ5ᙣᙍᖇᓎᙎᗅᖶt, Phanteks Enthoo Primo, 3TB WD Black, 500gb 850 Evo, H100iGeeTeeX, Windows 10, K70 R̸̢̡̭͍͕̱̭̟̩̀̀̃́̃͒̈́̈́͑̑́̆͘͜ͅG̶̦̬͊́B̸͈̝̖͗̈́, G502, HyperX Cloud 2s, Asus MX34. פN∩SW∀S 960 EVO

Just keeping this here as a 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̌̅̒̾̈́̆͌̌̾̎̽̐̅̏́̈̔͛̀̋̃͊̒̓͗͒̑͒̃͂̌̄̇̑̇͛̆̾͛̒̇̍̒̓̀̈́̄̐͂̍͊͗̎̔͌͛̂̏̉̊̎͗͊͒̂̈̽̊́̔̊̃͑̈́̑̌̋̓̅̔́́͒̄̈́̈̂͐̈̅̈̓͌̓͊́̆͌̉͐̊̉͛̓̏̓̅̈́͂̉̒̇̉̆̀̍̄̇͆͛̏̉̑̃̓͂́͋̃̆̒͋̓͊̄́̓̕̕̕̚͘͘͘̚̕̚͘̕̕͜͜͝͝͝͠͝͝͝͝͠ͅS̷̢̨̧̢̡̨̢̨̢̨̧̧̨̧͚̱̪͇̱̮̪̮̦̝͖̜͙̘̪̘̟̱͇͎̻̪͚̩͍̠̹̮͚̦̝̤͖̙͔͚̙̺̩̥̻͈̺̦͕͈̹̳̖͓̜͚̜̭͉͇͖̟͔͕̹̯̬͍̱̫̮͓̙͇̗̙̼͚̪͇̦̗̜̼̠͈̩̠͉͉̘̱̯̪̟͕̘͖̝͇̼͕̳̻̜͖̜͇̣̠̹̬̗̝͓̖͚̺̫͛̉̅̐̕͘͜͜͜͜ͅͅͅ.̶̨̢̢̨̢̨̢̛̻͙̜̼̮̝̙̣̘̗̪̜̬̳̫̙̮̣̹̥̲̥͇͈̮̟͉̰̮̪̲̗̳̰̫̙͍̦̘̠̗̥̮̹̤̼̼̩͕͉͕͇͙̯̫̩̦̟̦̹͈͔̱̝͈̤͓̻̟̮̱͖̟̹̝͉̰͊̓̏̇͂̅̀̌͑̿͆̿̿͗̽̌̈́̉̂̀̒̊̿͆̃̄͑͆̃̇͒̀͐̍̅̃̍̈́̃̕͘͜͜͝͠͠z̴̢̢̡̧̢̢̧̢̨̡̨̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲͚̠̜̮̠̜̞̤̺͈̘͍̻̫͖̣̥̗̙̳͓͙̫̫͖͍͇̬̲̳̭̘̮̤̬̖̼͎̬̯̼̮͔̭̠͎͓̼̖̟͈͓̦̩̦̳̙̮̗̮̩͙͓̮̰̜͎̺̞̝̪͎̯̜͈͇̪̙͎̩͖̭̟͎̲̩͔͓͈͌́̿͐̍̓͗͑̒̈́̎͂̋͂̀͂̑͂͊͆̍͛̄̃͌͗̌́̈̊́́̅͗̉͛͌͋̂̋̇̅̔̇͊͑͆̐̇͊͋̄̈́͆̍̋̏͑̓̈́̏̀͒̂̔̄̅̇̌̀̈́̿̽̋͐̾̆͆͆̈̌̿̈́̎͌̊̓̒͐̾̇̈́̍͛̅͌̽́̏͆̉́̉̓̅́͂͛̄̆͌̈́̇͐̒̿̾͌͊͗̀͑̃̊̓̈̈́̊͒̒̏̿́͑̄̑͋̀̽̀̔̀̎̄͑̌̔́̉̐͛̓̐̅́̒̎̈͆̀̍̾̀͂̄̈́̈́̈́̑̏̈́̐̽̐́̏̂̐̔̓̉̈́͂̕̚̕͘͘̚͘̚̕̚̚̚͘̕̕̕͜͜͝͠͠͝͝͝͝͠͝͝͝͠͝͝͝͝͝͝ͅͅͅī̸̧̧̧̡̨̨̢̨̛̛̘͓̼̰̰̮̗̰͚̙̥̣͍̦̺͈̣̻͇̱͔̰͈͓͖͈̻̲̫̪̲͈̜̲̬̖̻̰̦̰͙̤̘̝̦̟͈̭̱̮̠͍̖̲͉̫͔͖͔͈̻̖̝͎̖͕͔̣͈̤̗̱̀̅̃̈́͌̿̏͋̊̇̂̀̀̒̉̄̈́͋͌̽́̈́̓̑̈̀̍͗͜͜͠͠ͅp̴̢̢̧̨̡̡̨̢̨̢̢̢̨̡̛̛͕̩͕̟̫̝͈̖̟̣̲̖̭̙͇̟̗͖͎̹͇̘̰̗̝̹̤̺͉͎̙̝̟͙͚̦͚͖̜̫̰͖̼̤̥̤̹̖͉͚̺̥̮̮̫͖͍̼̰̭̤̲͔̩̯̣͖̻͇̞̳̬͉̣̖̥̣͓̤͔̪̙͎̰̬͚̣̭̞̬͎̼͉͓̮͙͕̗̦̞̥̮̘̻͎̭̼͚͎͈͇̥̗͖̫̮̤̦͙̭͎̝͖̣̰̱̩͎̩͎̘͇̟̠̱̬͈̗͍̦̘̱̰̤̱̘̫̫̮̥͕͉̥̜̯͖̖͍̮̼̲͓̤̮͈̤͓̭̝̟̲̲̳̟̠͉̙̻͕͙̞͔̖͈̱̞͓͔̬̮͎̙̭͎̩̟̖͚̆͐̅͆̿͐̄̓̀̇̂̊̃̂̄̊̀͐̍̌̅͌̆͊̆̓́̄́̃̆͗͊́̓̀͑͐̐̇͐̍́̓̈́̓̑̈̈́̽͂́̑͒͐͋̊͊̇̇̆̑̃̈́̎͛̎̓͊͛̐̾́̀͌̐̈́͛̃̂̈̿̽̇̋̍͒̍͗̈͘̚̚͘̚͘͘͜͜͜͜͜͜͠͠͝͝ͅͅͅ☻♥■∞{╚mYÄÜXτ╕○\╚Θº£¥ΘBM@Q05♠{{↨↨▬§¶‼↕◄►☼1♦  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Wait is the like the creators of Latin going after the creators of Spanish for using some of the same stuff in their languages? 

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as a young software developer this win for google is a huge win for me and many others in my field 

 

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On 4/5/2021 at 11:19 PM, Brooksie359 said:

Wait is the like the creators of Latin going after the creators of Spanish for using some of the same stuff in their languages? 

Yes exactly.

Android doesn't even use Java (despite what a lot of articles will say, including Google's own documentation). The entire lawsuit is based on "their language looks and works the same way ours does".

So Latin vs Spanish is a very good analogy.

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3 hours ago, LAwLz said:

Yes exactly.

Android doesn't even use Java (despite what a lot of articles will say, including Google's own documentation). The entire lawsuit is based on "their language looks and works the same way ours does".

So Latin vs Spanish is a very good analogy.

Well I'd argue that it is Java, and that they just extended the API/forked it.  (And had their own implementation for the backend).  Actually, I think during development they didn't even use a clean room to develop it (could be wrong, I just seem to recall that some parts of the JVM code were used in the making of Android).  The syntactical rules remain the same, the base API's remain the same, and the semantics are the same (Okay, it's been a bit too long I don't know if that's true anymore)

 

The way I look at it is that it's more akin to American English vs Cockney English (Or to a more extreme, American English vs 100 year old British English).

 

On 4/5/2021 at 1:44 PM, pythonmegapixel said:

We're building this wonderful free and open source operating system - but yeah, for the apps for it, we aren't going to use one of the many languages with non-profit organisations dedicated to maintaining them; we're going to choose the one which is owned by a huge multinational for-profit entity which could at any moment decide to completely f**k with it for their own gain

Well in all fairness, Android was released in 2008 prior to Oracle Sun.  There was even the CEO of Sun congratulating Google ( https://www.cnet.com/news/scoop-oracle-scrubs-site-of-embarrassing-java-blog/ ).  Actually if I recall correctly, Google tried using it as an argument that they actually had a sitdown with the CEO and got his blessing to use Java in the way they did.  For myself, I think this should have been thrown out from the get-go just because Google had the blessing to do so (which I think was what they used to try justifying it as fair use as well).

3735928559 - Beware of the dead beef

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now can we fix Oracle's dumb per-cpu-core licensing system for all the rest of their software? 

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9 minutes ago, bcredeur97 said:

now can we fix Oracle's dumb per-cpu-core licensing system for all the rest of their software? 

That's a difficult topic...while I agree it can get stupidly costly; it doesn't make sense to do a per socket licensing anymore for the companies since there are a decent amount of places that would just buy Xeon's with a higher thread-count to save on software licenses.  I disagree with the high costs per CPU core though, but that's why I try going to Open Source alternatives (if there are ones that can accommodate the needs)

3735928559 - Beware of the dead beef

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54 minutes ago, wanderingfool2 said:

 

 

Well in all fairness, Android was released in 2008 prior to Oracle Sun. 

Doesn't matter. Android was gunning for RIM, which applications were written in Java, and all feature phones used JavaME at the time.

 

https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~a78khan/courses-offered/cs446/2010_05/lecture-slides/BB_Architecture.pdf

 

image.thumb.png.7e5df412d8bb9ed33ace5b428f314b07.png

 

I'll note that that lecture document gushes on Java. The point being, that the BB was based on Java, and Google ripped off RIM win an intent of replacing it. There is no other reason for Android to have used any Java at all if they weren't intending to go to blackberry developers and go "hey, port your app to Android, all you have to do is use our compiler."

 

Write once, run anywhere, never happened.

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5 hours ago, Kisai said:

Doesn't matter. Android was gunning for RIM, which applications were written in Java, and all feature phones used JavaME at the time.

The context in which I said it does make it mean a lot.  The argument being that Google made a bad choice due to the multinational huge company (which at the time, Oracle wasn't the owner and Sun was very much open to having Android use Java).

 

5 hours ago, Kisai said:

There is no other reason for Android to have used any Java at all if they weren't intending to go to blackberry developers and go "hey, port your app to Android, all you have to do is use our compiler."

There is a huge reason why one would go with Java.  In 2008 there weren't many other options compared to Java, and Java was a pretty well taught language at the time.  There was c#, but that was very much controlled by Microsoft at that time (and would be a bad choice due to it not being open source).

Python you loose a lot more efficiency

C++ has a higher learning curve to Java, you can make a lot more mistakes and can't really compile it to opcode (which at the time meant mobile chips would have to be more standardized)

 

The fact is as well, you had a lot more developers who were familiar with Java than other languages as well (that's the first thing they taught at my school, as it was thought as a simpler language than C/C++).  Just because Blackberry was using it, doesn't specifically mean it was chosen for that.  If the iPhone existed, and BlackBerry didn't, I would still bet that Java would have been used as the vehicle of choice.

 

3735928559 - Beware of the dead beef

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2 hours ago, wanderingfool2 said:

 

 

The fact is as well, you had a lot more developers who were familiar with Java than other languages as well (that's the first thing they taught at my school, as it was thought as a simpler language than C/C++).  Just because Blackberry was using it, doesn't specifically mean it was chosen for that.  If the iPhone existed, and BlackBerry didn't, I would still bet that Java would have been used as the vehicle of choice.

 

https://www.theverge.com/2012/4/25/2974676/this-was-the-original-google-phone-presented-in-2006

 

google-phone-2.jpg

 

Quote

THE BASELINE SPECS REQUIRED TWO SOFT MENU KEYS, INDICATING THAT TOUCHSCREENS WEREN'T REALLY IN THE PLAN AT ALL

...

The designs have surfaced in Oracle's case against Google over Java, with Oracle's attorneys pointing out that Java is a frequent mention across the original slide deck: "Leverage Java for its existing base of developers. Build a useful app framework (not J2ME). Support J2ME apps in compatibility mode. Provide an opTMobileized JVM (Dalvik)," one slide reads.

They literately said it themselves.

 

Nokia phones ran J2ME stuff as well, but there was no killer app on nokia's, no games (or what games existed, didn't work on most phones due to lack of cohesive input options) 

 

Those original Android designs, straight up ripped off RIM's designs for blackberry at the time.

 

1195990.jpg

 

That is an exact copy of the BB except they moved the call/hangup buttons.

 

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On 4/6/2021 at 1:31 AM, Kisai said:

About time.

 

And honestly Oracle has done nothing but sit on and wreck products they acquire, they are kinda like the EA of business software in that regard. Oracle acquired companies that were a competitive threat to them, and then let them drown.

 

As for Google/Android... again Android should never have used Java as the basis of their product, because that ultimately did a lot of harm to it.

 

API's should not be copyrightable if they are published. If they aren't published then they are internal and can't be relied on for future functionality, but public API's should never change, and programming languages that depreciate functionality, are themselves functionally broken.

 

More like EA is the oracle of games.

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9 hours ago, Kisai said:

Doesn't matter. Android was gunning for RIM, which applications were written in Java, and all feature phones used JavaME at the time.

 

https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~a78khan/courses-offered/cs446/2010_05/lecture-slides/BB_Architecture.pdf

 

image.thumb.png.7e5df412d8bb9ed33ace5b428f314b07.png

 

I'll note that that lecture document gushes on Java. The point being, that the BB was based on Java, and Google ripped off RIM win an intent of replacing it. There is no other reason for Android to have used any Java at all if they weren't intending to go to blackberry developers and go "hey, port your app to Android, all you have to do is use our compiler."

 

Write once, run anywhere, never happened.

BlackBerry wasn't pure Java. Huge chunks of the OS had been coded in java. But the java was with microcode. Also blackberry had started to use .cod and .alx with a .jar compatibility. This meant that the vast majority of java apps would have needed some time to work. What I believe is more plausible is that Google wanted to tap in the Java ecosystem of symbian. Much easier porting. And in 2008, you weren't a blackberry developer. Appworld came in 2009 iirc. It was quite sparse.

 

I believe that Android was targetting Symbian devs, instead of BB devs.

 

I also have a query.  If google was to target someone, why didn't they target iOS(Objective c afaik)?

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I've always found it strange that someone could hold a patent on a programming language.

 

 

What do you expect people to do with it? Not build applications on top of your language?

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Newegg

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