Google Beats Oracle in Android’s Java Fair Use Case


Yesterday saw a great legal victory for Google. A court in San Francisco ruled that Google’s use of 37 Java APIs is fair and does not infringe Oracle’s copyright. The jury took three days to come to the verdict.

From Ars Technica:

There was only one question on the special verdict form, asking if Google's use of the Java APIs was a "fair use" under copyright law. The jury unanimously answered "yes," in Google's favor. The verdict ends the trial, which began earlier this month. If Oracle had won, the same jury would have gone into a "damages phase" to determine how much Google should pay. Because Google won, the trial is over.

Ars Technica also has a response from Google:

Today's verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products.

If Google had lost, they’d have had to pay substantial costs to Oracle. But there were also many people’s jobs relying on this. Java developers have made a good living off Android. But if the API or language was to change, this could have made Android incompatible with a applications both current and legacy, and developers would have to learn a new set of APIs.

I can’t see how Google could get around this. Could they make their own APIs or take a step further and develop their own language for Android? It’s certainly plausible, but the reason Google chose Java is because it’s the number one used programming language, at least according to the TIOBE index, which orders languages based on their search engine popularity. Aiming for such a high pool of developers was obviously wise.

Today Android has nearly 62% of the smartphone market share. iOS comes in at second with under half that. Android’s open nature has seen it spawn on a variety of devices, under a variety of skins. Soon, Android and the Play Store will run on a variety of Chromebooks too.