A couple of days ago, there was an interesting outcome in the legal battle between Oracle and Google over the copyright infringement claim sought by Oracle for the Java API package found in the Google Android operating system. On Monday, the jury passed down a verdict that said they were unable to decide if Google's implementation of the Java APIs in Android fell under the 'fair use' exception to copyright. The jury found that Android infringed on the overall structure, sequence, and organization of copyrighted material involving 37 APIs used by the Java platform and contained nine lines of copyrighted Java code in one function – rangeCheck.
This battle has been going on since 2010 when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems – the original creator of Java. What Google was upset about was that Google had created a new version of the Java platform and thus potentially the write once, run anywhere claim for Java could have been destroyed.
So, Judge Alsup has been put in a difficult position. Google claims that if fair use for APIs cannot be decided, then a mistrial should be declared, based on precedent, and it appears as if Google made a good case for fair use during the trial. As such, it has been indicated that the damages would be minimal and so the Judge has basically asked Google and Oracle to settle it themselves so that the copyright of APIs does not need to be defined in law.
What do you think? Should APIs be copyrightable?Brian Bailey
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