Android Copyright Battle Goes To Supreme Court
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 10 October 2014

Google has filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling that said Oracle's Java API's were protected by copyright.

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This can be considered the third stage of the legal battle between Oracle and Google lawsuit relating to the Android OS, Although it seems to have been ongoing for ever, it actually dates from August 2010 when Oracle initiated its lawsuit against Google citing both patent and copyright infringements.

It took until April 2012 for the case to come to trial and at the end of round one, the jury unanimously denied all eight of the patent infringements asserted by Oracle and the Federal Court judge in the case, William Alsup, ruled that the elements replicated by Google were "free for all to use under the Copyright Act".

Almost two years down the line Oracle's appeal was heard by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which reversed Judge Alsup's ruling that APIs were not copyrightable stating that the: 

 code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection. 

Now Google has filed a petition for this ruling to be overturned. In it it asks the US Supreme Court to consider the question:

"Whether copyright protection extends to all elements of an original work of computer software, including a system or method of operation, that an author could have written in more than one way."

Part of Google's argument is the way in which such copyright protection would impact technological innovation, saying at one point in to 49-page petition:

Consider how difficult it would have been for Tesla to build an electric car in the familiar arrangement and functions of a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal were protected. The Java method headers and shorthand commands derived from them are today's software programmers as those standard controls are to today's drivers - crucial methods for operating a complex system.

Judge Alsup turned out to be a programmer himself and his argument as to why an API was not copyrightable, the basis of his ruling in Google's favour, relied on his understanding of the Java programming language.

Presumably Google's legal team is now relying on the Supreme Court being at least drivers and not necessarily programmers.

 

 

 
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