In a decisive decision, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in favour of Google in a long-running lawsuit over whether the tech giant violated copyright law when it used Oracle’s software code to build its famous Android operating system.
Writing for the court’s majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that giving Oracle the win would make its code a “lock limiting the future creativity of new programs. Oracle alone would hold the key.”
The ruling means that Google dodged a potentially huge payout in damages. Oracle sought over US$8 billion (~RM33.1 billion), but sources told Reuters that it could have gone as high as US$20 billion (~RM82.7 billion) to US$30 billion (~RM124 billion).
In 2010, Oracle sued Google for allegedly stealing over 11,000 lines of code from its Java programme, including the way it is organised, to develop Android and subsequently profit massively because of it.
BREAKING: The Supreme Court overturns Oracle's copyright win over Google.
— Bloomberg Law (@BLaw) April 5, 2021
In response, Google argued it only took parts of Java’s software code need to operate a computer program or platform – US federal copyright law apparently doesn’t protect mere “methods of operation.”
Google is obviously pleased with the ruling, declaring that it gives “legal certainty” to developers going forward. A lower court had previously ruled against the tech giant, and this decision effectively overturns that.
Oracle, on the other hand, decried the ruling, saying that it just adds to Google’s market dominance. The company labelled Google a “monopolist” and highlighted the fact that regulators around the world were looking into the search giant’s business practices.