Google Wins Fair Use Case Over Java

google-javaIn the mobile web world, APIs are the programs which hold everything together.  Among the most commonly used APIs, at least in the Android community, is script written in the Java language.  And recently, Google and Oracle have been going at it over the use of APIs (and Java) to leverage applications and services a far more [unnecessarily] complex process.

A judgment this week, though, may have finally put this war to rest; good news to users (because it will make applications more accessible) but also good news to programmers and developers (as it will make it easier to broaden the marketplace).

In the new judgment, the court has ruled that Google is not guilty of copyright infringement for using Oracle’s Java script in Android programs.  Of course, this is a win for Android fans but if the judgment had gone the other way it could have been really bad news for Android (and Google) as it would cost them as much as $9 billion in penalties.

“The ruling certainly sets a high bar for creativity before deserving protection from fair use,” explains Al Hilwa, who is the program director of software development research for IDC. “In this sense, developers will broadly view this as a relief from the burden of copyrights in crafting or copying APIs to a certain degree.”

The core of Google’s argument is that Sun—the company which originally created Java, which was then bought up by Oracle—had originally intended Java to be free for any programmer to use. Indeed, Sun had designed java as an open-source platform; something with which Google has great understanding.  The hope was that common code could be offered to leverage software across different operating systems (which makes the field more appealing for developers).

Now, an earlier decision had been made, indicating that APIs, in fact, have US copyright protection. At the time, this decision really threw a kink into the system, sending a shock wave through the community, threatening the newly developing community of designers, artists, programmers, and developers connected solely through the purpose of making new software for the emerging mobile tech industry.

At that time, the case went to District court, in San Francisco, to determine if Google’s use of Java in APIs could be considered fair use.  While it was originally ruled that Google’s utilization should not be considered fair use, that mindset has since changed.