US Supreme Court sides with Google in software copyright case

The US Supreme Court has issued its opinion in case of Google LL.C v. Oracle America Inc., ruling that copying of a portion of the Java SE computer program by Google is protected as ‘fair use’.

The case involved use of 11 330 lines of code and an organisation which was part of Oracle’s Java platform by Google in its Android operating system. Oracle claimed that the re-use of that code without permission constituted copyright infringement and sought damages of US$ 8 billion. Google argued that use of code for non creative purposes does not enjoy copyright protection and is a common practice in the industry which contributes to innovation.

The US Supreme Court now ruled that that use of software code to build the Android operating system did not violate federal copyright law and that ‘Google’s copying of the Java SE API, which included only those lines of code that were needed to allow programmers to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material as a matter of law’.