US Supreme Court hears arguments in Google v. Oracle on computer code copyright

The US Supreme Court heard arguments in Google LLC vs. Oracle America Inc. on dealing with the questions whether copyright protection extends to a software interface; and whether the use of an application programming interface (API) when creating new software constitutes fair use. 

The dispute between Google and Oracle spans over a decade. It deals with Google’s creation of the Android operating system (OS). When creating Android in 2007, Google wrote new computer code, but it also used 11 330 lines of code and an organisation that was a part of Oracle’s Java platform.

Google claims that using open APIs is a long-settled practice in software creation and the use of Oracle’s code constituted fair use. Oracle claims that the code and organisation used by Google are subject to copyright and demands US$9 billion.

According to Reuters, the US Supreme Court judges appeared to be divided in their opinions.

The outcome of this case could change how software is built; through open source or licensed code.