Judge in Oracle-Google trial says APIs can't be copyrighted

Oracle's case destroyed
Judge Alsup ruled that Oracle has no case

The judge in Oracle's copyright and patent suit against Google's Android OS ruled that the allegedly infringing Java APIs can not be copyrighted. Therefore, Oracle has no case.

Judge William Alsup, who reportedly has coding experience, announced his decision on Thursday, saying that Google did not infringe on copyrights held by Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle in 2009) because those copyright don't exist.

Oracle's suit claimed that Google's Android operating system was built on no less than 37 Java APIs that infringed on Sun Microsystem's copyrights.

A jury earlier this month determined that Google did indeed infringe on the APIs in question, but the jury were operating under the assumption that said APIs were copyrightable in the first place.

Yesterday, Alsup overrode that decision, saying, "To accept Oracle's claim would be to allow anyone to copyright one version of code to carry out a system of commands and thereby bar all others from writing their own different versions to carry out all or part of the same commands."

Alsup continued, "No holding has ever endorsed such a sweeping proposition."

Are APIs a free-for-all resource?

However, Alsup noted that "this order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

"Oracle's claim would allow anyone to copyright one version of code to carry out a system of commands and bar others from writing their own versions to carry out all or part of the same commands."

Google said in a statement: "The court's decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It's a good day for collaboration and innovation."

Oracle reportedly responded that the ruling will make defending IP rights all the more difficult going forward. They plan to appeal the ruling.

Other portions of the case could see Google paying as much as $150,000 to Oracle, a paltry victory when compared with the billions that Oracle hoped to win.

The jury also determined that Google did not infringe on two Sun Microsystems patents raised by Oracle in the suit.

Neither Oracle nor Google have responded to TechRadar's requests for comment.

Via The Guardian

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.