The details of the more than ten-year dispute: In the 2010 case, Google was accused of stealing portions of the API code developed by Sun Microsystems, which was later adopted by Oracle.
Google argued that this type of code is often freely used by developers to improve interoperability between different products, and that even if that code – as Oracle argued – is copyrighted, it is protected by the provisions of the “Fair Use Act.” “That allow unlicensed use of otherwise copyrighted material under certain circumstances.
Oracle argued that the code was copyrighted, that it should have been paid for to be used by Google, and that while some standard code was exempted from protection, the Java code was far from standard.
The Supreme Court joined Google in saying, “Google’s copy of the Java SE API, which contained only the lines of code necessary for programmers to bring their collective talents to life in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material for legal reasons. “
What is below: Google and Oracle are fierce political opponents, each arguing that the other is playing unfair not only in business, but also in the technology policy debates that have gripped Washington in recent years. These range from antitrust law to data protection and the leeway online platforms should have for monitoring user contributions on their websites.
What’s next: Google’s victory in this case could give it – and its allies – political momentum as it wages these larger political battles for the months and years to come.