Oracle/Google “Copyright Case of the Century” Kicks Off in Supreme Court

This fight has been brewing for about 10 years

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Oracle’s consequential legal case against Google. 

  • At issue: Oracle is demanding $9 billion in damages over what it calls illegal use of its software. Some have called it the “copyright case of the century,” and it’s been marinating awhile; the case was filed in 2010. 

The backstory: To make the operating system for its Android smartphone, Google developers used a component—the application programming interface, or API—of the programming language and development platform Java. Oracle now owns Java. 

So Oracle says it’s owed $$$. A jury sided with Google initially, but then two appeals court decisions favored Oracle. Google says its use of the API is protected by what lawyers call “fair use.”

A lot is at stake here. APIs are a central, if legally hazy, pillar of modern software development—developers have assumed they’re fair game for ~20 years. Experts worry an Oracle win would mean the consolidation of legal power among Big Tech’s software giants and a rockier path for startups. 

Via Morning Brew

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