monday, 30 may of 2016

Google Wins Java Copyright Case Against Oracle

A federal jury found Google’s use of Oracle Corp.’s Java software in its mobile products didn’t violate copyright law, a verdict cheered by many in Silicon Valley who believe it will protect how they write and use software.

Thursday’s decision, which Oracle said it would appeal, marked the latest chapter in a six-year legal battle in which Oracle sought as much as $9 billion from Google for using 11,000 lines of Java software code in its Android software.

Oracle sued Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., in 2010 for using parts of Java without permission. A federal appeals court later ruled that Oracle could copyright the Java parts, but Google argued in a new trial this month that its use of Java was limited and covered by rules permitting “fair use” of copyrighted material.

The verdict “represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages,” Google said in statement.

Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in statement, “Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market.” Ms. Daley added: “there are numerous grounds for appeal.”

The technology industry has watched the case closely because it could determine how software programs use application program interfaces, or APIs, computer code that helps programs, websites or apps talk to one another.

Oracle sued Google over its use of 37 Java APIs in Android, which runs most of the world’s smartphones. Google said it used the APIs to help software engineers, many of who are familiar with Java, build Android apps.

Google and others in Silicon Valley said an Oracle victory in the case would have stifled software innovation by discouraging programmers from using APIs. That would make software development harder and could render some apps inoperable, they said.

“We are popping the bubbly here,” said Uri Sarid, chief technology officer of MuleSoft Inc., which helps firms build APIs. He said APIs help programs reach broader audiences and “there’s a chilling effect if your building block can’t talk to mine.”

Pamela Samuelson, an intellectual-property law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said an Oracle victory would have given big tech companies too much power, by allowing them to require others to obtain licenses to work with their software.

“You would be beholden to incumbents. They could say, ‘absolutely not,’ or ‘give me your first born child,’ ” she said. “Software innovation has been based upon being able to freely create and innovate by operating with other programs. That has been a core value from the beginning.”

Oracle, meanwhile, said the verdict hurts innovation by weakening intellectual-property protections for software and discouraging tech companies from investing to create new programs.

During the nearly three-week trial, Google argued that executives at Java’s creator, Sun Microsystems Inc., didn’t believe Google needed a license to use Java. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010. Former Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz, a Google witness, testified that he was upset Google never obtained a license for Java, but didn’t think it needed one.

Oracle insisted that Google knew it needed a license to use the Java APIs but decided to use them anyway. Oracle showed the jury Google emails in which executives discussed needing a license.

One test of whether a use was protected under federal copyright law’s fair use rule is whether the amount of material used is substantial. Google said the 11,000 lines of Java code it used was less than 0.1% of Android’s 15 million lines of code.

Oracle argued that it was more than all the code in the Apollo lunar module.

(Published by The Wall Street Journal - May 26, 2016)

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