Fair Use Ruled in Google's Use of Oracle Java | Kennedy Law, P.C.

Jury Finds Google’s Use of Oracle’s Java Software is Fair Use

Author: Stephen A. Kennedy

A ten person jury deliberating in the United States District Court in San Francisco has sided with Google in its six year copyright battle against Oracle Corp. Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement of its Java application program interfaces (“APIs”). Google raised a fair use defense and by special verdict the jury found that Google’s use of Java in its Android mobile operating system constituted fair use. This case has been closely monitored by software developers, who frequently use programming APIs with no license or remuneration to the original developer.

Google developed its own version of JAVA for its Android Operating System. To permit developers to write programs that would work on Android, Google used the same names, functionality, and organization of the JAVA APIs. In essence, Google had to use the Java APIs to ensure functional communication between programs developed for Android that use Java. For example, when you read a news story and want to share that story on Facebook, you use the share button that has the Facebook logo displayed. When you click that button, you are using a Facebook API that the website developer received from Facebook. That particular API belongs to Facebook, but without it, there would be no communication ability between the two sites.

Google admitted that it used 11,000 lines of Oracle’s copyrighted Java software code. However, Google maintained that the amount of code used in the Android mobile operating system is less than .1 percent of the total code that constitutes the Android system.

Google has no hopes that the recent ruling will end this lengthy copyright battle, as Oracle promptly announced that it would be filing an appeal.

The copyright lawyers at Kennedy Law are experienced in software copyright matters. With offices in Dallas and Houston, we have handled copyright registrations and copyright litigation for both software companies and individual developers. If you need a free copyright consultation, please contact the copyright team at Kennedy Law.


Chelsie Spencer is a Senior Associate with the Dallas office of Kennedy Law, PC. She may be reached at 214-716-4345.

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