Oracle v. Google Judge Writes the Book on Software Programming Copyright – For Now, Anyway

7 06 2012

The trial in the dispute between Oracle and Google over the use of Java technology in the Android operating system is over, and the greatly anticipated ruling on copyright in the Java Application Programming Interface (API) has issued. The court ruled that the elements of the Java API, including the structure, sequence and organization, are not protected by copyright. It is important to note that the court did not rule that no elements of an API may be protected by copyright. Although broad in its implications, the opinion is fact-specific to the Java API.

As appropriate to a dispute that presiding judge William Alsup referred to as “the World Series of technology litigation,” the API ruling is world-class.  The opinion will quickly make its way into technology law textbooks, not only for the clarity of the court’s discussion of how the Java programming language functions, but for its mini-treatise on software copyright law.


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