This is good news for the software industry. The judge ruled that Google didn’t violate copyright law when it developed Android. So, Google doesn’t owe Oracle ANY money—much less the billions that Oracle was at one time suing for.Even though the jury found that Google was guilty of copyright infringement, Judge Alsup stepped in and smacked down that result, saying that the stuff that Google copied from Java—the APIs—were “free for all to use under the Copyright Act.”
Just last night Larry Ellison said on stage at the AllThingsD D10 conference that its war with Google over Android wasn’t over. Oracle lost to Google over its patent infringement claims, but a jury ruled in its favour over copyright claims. So Ellison said he was still intending on getting his due from Google over its alleged copyright infringement.
Ah, yeah, no—not so much.
Here’s the relevant paragraph:
“The particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act. Therefore, Oracle’s claim based on Google’s copying of the 37 API packages, including their structure, sequence and organisation is DISMISSED. To the extent stated herein, Google’s Rule 50 motions regarding copyrightability are GRANTED (Dkt. Nos. 984, 1007). Google’s motion for a new trial on copyright infringement is DENIED AS MOOT (Dkt. No. 1105). IT IS SO ORDERED.”
Google sent us this happy-dance statement, too.
“The court’s decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It’s a good day for collaboration and innovation.”
And Google was right on this one.
Think about what an API is. API stands for “application programming interface”: It’s what allows two programs to talk to each other.
If the judge had ruled that APIs were copyrightable, it would have caused all kinds of trouble within the software industry. Everyone would be suing each other all the time, and trying to collect money, for stuff that they all previously thought was free.
Goodness knows they do that already over patents. To add API copyright lawsuits to the mix would have been insane.