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May 10, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:46am

Google, Oracle go back to court in $9.3bn copyright fight

News: The outcome of the case could change how APIs are used and radically transform software development.

By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle and Google have headed back to court over copyright, with Oracle seeking damages from Google for using elements of Java in its Android operating system.

The verdict will not only decide $9.3bn damages sought by Oracle from Google, which is now part of Alphabet, but will also decide how software is licensed.

The case was first filed in 2010, after Oracle bought SunMicro Systems in 2009. Before the case was filed, Oracle pursued a discussion with Google over a licensing deal without reaching on an agreement.

Later, in 2012 the District Court said that APIs could not be brought under the purview of copyrights and hence, there were no damages awarded.

However, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals found that APIs were indeed creative works and that applying copyright over APIs is valid. This development had overturned a 2014 ruling.

In response to this ruling, Google appealed to Supreme Court to intervene and was joined by allies including Yahoo, HP, Red Hat and other open source advocates, but it was rejected.

Other software companies such as Microsoft, EMC and NetApp had also appealed to High Court to uphold the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal judgement.

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During this round of the legal saga, the court will have to decide whether or not Google is guilty of copyright infringement.

At the heart of the dispute are APIs. These are small snippets of code which enable apps, websites or programs to work with other bits of software.

Some experts say that if Oracle wins this case, then it will be deterrent for future programmers, particularly individual programmers to use APIs and could not only stall innovation, but can also make apps and websites more or less useless.


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