The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Google in its long-running copyright battle with rival Oracle, overturning a decision by a lower court and ending a case that has been going on for over ten years, spanning three trials and two separate appeals. In a 6-2 decision, the court ruled that Google did not infringe copyright when it copied parts of Oracle’s Java APIs in its Android operating system as doing so constituted fair use under US law.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the decision that “to allow enforcement of Oracle’s copyright here would risk harm to the public” as it would effectively allow Oracle to act as a gatekeeper for software code others wanted to use. “Oracle alone would hold the key,” Breyer wrote. “The result could well prove highly profitable to Oracle (or other firms holding a copyright in computer interfaces)… [but] the lock would interfere with, not further, copyright’s basic creativity objectives.” The court, however, declined to rule on the wider issue of whether APIs themselves are copyrightable