After Ten Years, The Google vs Oracle API Copyright Mega-Battle Finally Hit The Supreme Court

from The Register

The decade-long mega-battle between two of the world’s largest corporations, which will decide the future of software development, began its final showdown this morning.

Yes, it was Google versus Oracle at the US Supreme Court, and two hours of wide-ranging, fast-paced legal argument: full of analogies, pointed questions, sharp responses, and virtually no missteps – it indicated just how much is at stake.

At the heart of the case is this: Android, Google’s mobile operating system installed on billions of devices that contributes to making it one of the richest and most powerful corporations on the planet.

Oracle says Google stole code from Java’s core libraries after Oracle refused to license the technology to Google in a way that would allow Google to create its own closed flavor of the Java environment in which Android apps would run.

Google says while it built an entire operating system and software environment, it did lift some code from the core Java libraries – specifically, the veneer or application interface of those libraries – to make it easy for people to write their apps using the Java programming language. If you’re familiar with Java, you should recognize the same interfaces on Android, which gives you a head start in developing software for the platform.

More here.

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7 Comments

  1. a. I found the Google Vs. Oracle debacle interesting, especially when comparing Google to Apple. The article mentions that Apple builds its operating system from the ground up to ensure full control. Apple also doesn’t license its operating system to other companies. I am a techie, and I keep up to date with industry news. When it comes to whom I think should win, it is different than who should legally win. I will support whatever decision the Supreme Court makes in their interpretation of the law as stands. For the industry, Google winning would be better overall, but no solution is perfect. For example, could this open up Apple’s code to a looser definition of fair use and pierce the Apple Ecosystem? As the article mentions, a win for Google looked forward at the innovation caused by shared code and stopped by patent trolls. I would not want industry stasis caused by each individual company starting from the ground up. At the same time, patents and copyrights are important to drive innovation. We really need a thorough and nuanced law to affect the industry in a targeted way instead of the Supreme Court ruling on a specific case that has drastic repercussions for things indirectly involved. It is hard for Congress to understand the importance of this given their lack of computer science degrees and lack of understanding of what an “Android” is. Somehow I have taken another issue and got to the necessity of congressional term limits.
    b. One thing not mentioned in the article that Google has done recently is starting to divide Android into chunks that can be individually updated or manipulated without affecting the rest of the code. This would make it easier for developers to deal with parted off pieces of the system and make updates faster and more secure. I haven’t considered if this would also enable Google to remove the 11,000 lines of code in Android taken from Oracle. Google certainly doesn’t want to pay royalties on the hundreds of millions of Android phones sold every year. The repercussions of switching programming languages would be drastic and change the foundation of Android. I am not an engineer, and I do not know the intricacies of what would happen, but I can only imagine the overwhelming majority of Apps on the Google Play Store needing to be re-written. Maybe there could be a long transition period between languages where the platform supports both, but that seems sloppy. This entire situation goes to show the benefits of thinking long term and building your own product from the ground up as Apple did. If Oracle wins, Google is going to be in a tough spot. It will be interesting to see how they deal with that.

  2. Google and Oracle are the two biggest tech companies in the world and this may be the end of a war. The two have now found themselves at the United States Supreme Court because of a difference of opinion on the use of potential Java codes. Oracle are the ones claiming Google stole the codes after they refused to get a license for the codes while Google is saying that they should not be singled out for this if anything because the codes are so commonly used whose right would it be to say that this set (eleven thousand) codes are meant solely for Oracle. This is not the first time that Google has “stolen” something from someone else to use for themselves which is why it is hard for them to win this case. Personally I am not a big tech guy and I do not have a certain search engine preference. My laptop is a Dell so I use Yahoo as my search on their and I have an iPhone so my search engine on the phone is Safari, but I have used Google plenty of times in my life to like it too. They all do a good job of getting me sources. I personally am not sure how they compete against each other because I think as though not many people hold much search engine preferences.
    The article brings up the case of Baker v Seldon from 1879 which served a similar case to this one. Seldon wrote a book and Baker basically copied his ideas about eight years later and raked in the profits as Seldon’s book which was the original and inspiration made very little profit. Baker won the case because of the key difference between what was done and what was not done from Seldon’s perspective. Seldon copyrighted the book but all that does is protect the original work of the authorship. So Seldon got to receive the credit for making the book, but did not receive the right for his idea to be stolen or changed up. A patent would protect the intellectual property of the source so in this case the ideas Seldon wrote in the book. This is why Baker won the case.
    If we take anything off of history I believe that similar to Baker that Google had a chance. I say had because at the time of this article Google lost the Supreme Court case to Oracle. In return Google will be losing a lot as they will give up tons of money (about nine billion) and royalties on top of that. They were not able to sway the voting which was at an unfair disadvantage for them. Oracle won at every level of court up to that point and following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Supreme Court found themselves down to eight judges instead of nine. Even in the event of a tie, that tie would have gone to Oracle hence the disadvantage for Google. In my opinion I think that was somewhat wrong of a ruling. Oracle chose not to get a license or anything legal to protect the codes from the discretion of others so I think Google is pretty justified in this case.

  3. For this week’s responses, I decided to choose one that had a topic that I was intimately familiar with, and the other one would have to be of a topic that I had no prior understanding of until I finished reading the complementary article. So when I read the article published in the Register, a website that I have never even heard of before, I came into this conversation like a newborn, completely ignorant of the pros and cons of either side. With that in mind, this does not mean that I was unable to ultimately decide which of the two companies in the article, Google or Oracle, was legally in the right of the disputed code that Google “lifted” from Oracle. Now, usually I am a big proponent of fair use. This is because I am of the opinion that current culture as a whole has suffered under the weight of companies snapping up ideas and stories in order to monetize them but disallow any real fair use for fans or normal people. So it should come as a complete surprise that my opinion of this case is that Google, the one in this case arguing in favor of fair use to their own ends, is the one in the wrong and that Oracle, the company that I would usually detest in these circumstances, has the proper legal basis to be furious at Google. My own reasoning for this has to do with the way this issue first cropped up. Google has attested that Oracle’s lines of code are used in so many other programs and apps that they should ultimately be off the hook like those other users of the code. However, Google failed to cite what circumstances those others used the lines of code under, as opposed to Google “lifting” the codes from Oracle, which is an especially shady way to word it. Furthermore, fair use means that you must only use what you have taken as a base to build off of, and not just take credit for and monetize for yourself without permission. An example of fair use versus stealing is if I used a ten second clip of the movie “Aladdin” to make a joke in a video I made, this would fall under fair use. What would not count is if my video was just the entire first half of the movie and called “Aid-laddin.” So in this case, in the efforts of defending fair use and PROPER use of it, I would say that Oracle has the high ground in this debate, though now I am interested to see exactly where the case will go from here.

  4. After reading this article, I came to learn how significant of a company Oracle is. Of course, Google has been a household name for some time now, but I had no idea that they were battling Oracle in court. I came to hear about Oracle through the recent news of TikTok’s ban in the United States. To hear about them getting into legal disputes with Google, I was quite shocked. In the case, Oracle claims that Google stole code from Java’s core libraries. Oracle is the official owner of the programming language. Google wanted to use Java in order to make some of their software components transfer from PCs to smartphones. Oracle was ready to allow Google to have a license to the code, but they would have to make their subsequent work interoperable with Java. Google did not want this, so they used some of the code without permission.

    The one thing I found interesting about his case is the fact that there are only eight Supreme Court Judges. This small amount of judges could prove to be favorable to Google when this case is decided. Another thing I found interesting is hearing how Google’s lawyer Thomas Goldstein argued his case in court. He used the analogy of cracking open a safe. Oracle’s lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz responded with his own analogies as well.

    The thing that stuck out to me the most was the similarities to the legal precedent Baker v. Selden from 1879. In this case, Charles Selden wrote a book on bookkeeping. Eight years later, W.C.M Baker wrote a similar book that essentially presented the same ideas. When Selden’s wife tried to sure, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Baker, claiming that Selden never patented his approach, but merely wrote a book about it and copyrighted the material. The Supreme Court highlighted the difference between copyright law and patent law. Google is essentially making the same argument. Oracle just simply wrote a book about their method of computing, not patented it.

    So far, the case seems to be in Oracle’s favor. This estimated losses if Google loses this case is said to be around $9 billion.

  5. Oracle is a company that owns Java, which is used for many apps as well as games. The reason I know this is because I remember playing games when I was little and Java was required to play all of the games. Java is also a type of code, I know this because my brother used to take a class where he had to code with Java script. Another thing that I have learned from being in Business Law is that most of the time Supreme Court makes just decisions. Whatever decision the Supreme Court makes would be a decision that both of the companies would have to live by. When Google was being sued by Oracle, they were being sued for 8.8 billion dollars in sales revenue. This is where the term “go big or go home,” comes into play because this price is outrageous for the reason the complaint was placed. Since Oracle could have massive sway in software development in the upcoming future, this will definitely be a good article to read for people who are very interested in the Tech industry.

  6. The Google vs Oracle dispute has been a long time coming. 10 years of countless efforts to win over their legal battle has all culminated to the doorstep of the highest ranking establishment of the judicial branch of our government. This case does a good job of showing just how important patents are in the world of big market business. It is crucial to have legally validated control over your ideas so those groundbreaking ideas don’t fall into other people’s hands who could make money off them and steal away your profits.
    Oracle accusing Google of theft of property is a huge claim. Google admitting to lifting some code from Java libraries is also just as risky, even if they explained their purpose behind it. This legal battle really comes down to two competitive mega-corporations within the same industry trying to get the edge over one-another. Whoever wins this case will gain so much more than just a lawsuit victory, it will impact the future of software development for years and years to come.
    Oracle and Google are both at the heart of the world’s leading computer scientists and to see their prolonged issues come to a close, in one way or another regardless of who comes out on top, is a satisfying venture. For it to take over a decade to resolve such an issue means the people involved now may not have even been with either company at the start of the situation.
    Nothing comes quick in legal processes, patience, determination, and grit are what separates a successful company from a failing one both in court and in life generally speaking. In our country today, division is everywhere. More and more people are fighting when this should be a time of unity and togetherness. I hope that whatever the results of this case may be, that they don’t permanently damage relations between Google and Oracle. Two of the greatest collective minds in the field of coding should be working together to evolve and change the world, not competing against one another to undermine.

  7. Google and Oracle fighting for the past 10 years, and finally get to court is what both parties probably wanted. Oracle says google has been taking their things, such as trying to improve their business. Google is used every single for about every minute or so in everyones day lives. So accusing of someone taking their plan or information, doesn’t really sound to good to be true, because its google and many people use google rather than oracle. So with that being said, I think google has way too much protection and way too much great lawyers to back their claims up and discuss the fact that google will always lead in what’s put in the search bar and how other businesses may be affected. I do think it was very selfish for Oracle to do this because knowing how big and useful google is they would like want to try to boycott it and that will never happen. Instead do think they should come together and join forces, and help each other win and win together. For example, If all the smart minds come together and show one another how powerful one or 2 join businesses can be I think the salary goes up for all those workers and it becomes a win win for both of them. Instead of taking one to court and accusing one of the other, but join forces, make the business even bigger and better, and make sure that it has all the needs, and it will be trending and many people will view it and give it a try, and once everything is ready and good to go, I feel like so many more of the population will give it a great rating, and going from there only make it better and have progress together. Even though google did use some webs without permission, which is wrong, I feel like they shouldn’t have been getting sued, because of how big of a company they are, and how much money they make, so maybe trying to deal with them or sort out a deal would be the best idea which is why I think if they joined together and make one big company, it would be a high amount of popularity.

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