Preliminary Note: This is my personal commentary on what I believe to be an important copyright decision, likely having a favorable impact on the open source community. It is not intended to create a flame-war over this topic, which has been broadly divisive in the wider software community.
After a very long (years long) battle, the US Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of Google’s use of certain Java API -related code owned by Oracle. Oracle had been seeking $9 Billion dollars in damages from Google.
The holding (the most important part) of the SCOTUS decision was that Google’s use of certain elements of the Oracle Java API within Android was a fair use under US Copyright law.
“Google’s purpose was to create a different task-related system for a different computing environment (smartphones) and to create a platform—the Android platform—that would help achieve and popularize that objective. The record demonstrates numerous ways in which reimplementing an interface can further the development of computer programs. Google’s purpose was therefore consistent with that creative progress that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself.”
In my opinion, this likely will be seen as a win by the open source community. Google’s use was clearly commercial in nature, and yet it has now been held to be fair use under the US Copyright Act.
No doubt, this was a battle of corporate giants, but it is one that will likely have an important impact on global software development and use. My belief is that the line has now been better defined and brightened for careful use of certain aspects of proprietary code within the FLOSS development/ ecosystem.
The decision runs some 62 pages in length. Although it is easily found and publicly available, If anyone would like a copy in .pdf format, please feel free to PM me.