The 6-2 decision was accompanied by much anticipation as a key opinion on the issue of copyright in the digital age, which also exempts Google from paying billions to its technological rival.
Judge Stephen Breyer wrote that the use of this language was “fair; therefore, Google’s copy did not violate copyright law,” he said.
The case should decide whether copyright protection should extend to application programming interfaces (APIs) – code fragments that allow programs and applications to work together – and, if so, whether Google has “fair use” of material.
The process drew the attention of the entire technological sector and the creative industries, heating up the debate about how far copyright protection for computer code fragments should go.
Two separate trials ended with the determination that Google’s “software interface” did not use the Java code unfairly, saving the Internet giant from a possible penalty of several million dollars.
However, an appeals court found otherwise in 2018, arguing that the software interface is entitled to protection, which made Google take the case to the highest level in the United States.
Oracle, which acquired the rights to Java in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems – which supported Google’s use of Java for Android – has asked for $ 9 billion in damages in its initial demand.
Google and several of its allies in Silicon Valley have argued that extending copyright protection to APIs would threaten innovation in the constantly evolving digital world.
According to Google, a victory for Oracle “would nullify the view of software developers that they are free to use existing software interfaces to create new programs”.
Others felt, however, that the technology giant would be able to perpetrate “an intellectual property theft” with a judicial victory that, they said, would make it difficult to protect any digital property from misappropriation by China.
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