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 assessed in the 39-page text that contains the majority opinion.
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 judgments determined in the first instance 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 ruled otherwise in 2018, arguing that the software interface is entitled to protection, which made Google take the case to the highest court 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.
On the other hand, Google decided to abandon Oracle’s financial management software in favor of the German group SAP in the coming weeks, a spokesman for the Californian group AFP confirmed on Monday.
According to CNBC, which broke the news, the decision is not directly related to the copyright battle between the two companies.
– Ameaa inovao? –
Google and several of its Silicon Valley allies have argued that extending copyright protection to APIs would threaten innovation in the ever-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.
In disagreement, Judge Clarence Thomas, with Judge Samuel Alito, wrote that the Court should have adopted a more rigorous view of rights, since Google copied 11,500 lines of code.
“The Court erroneously deviates from the main question we must answer: is this code protected by copyright? I would say it is. The code occupies a unique space in intellectual property,” wrote Thomas.
However, according to Breyer, new technologies demand a broader vision.
“The fact that computer programs are mainly functional makes it difficult to apply traditional concepts of intellectual property in this technological world,” he said.
The magistrate added that Google “has re-implemented a user interface, taking only what is necessary to allow users to put their accumulated talents to work on a new and transformative program”.
University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck considered on Twitter that the decision was “a victory for Google, but the big question has been avoided” since the judges have not determined whether this type of code can be protected or not.
However, for Boston University law professor Tiffany Li, the decision “is a big win for fair use and for people who understand how the code works”.
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