High Court Wants Gov't Views in Google vs. Oracle API Copyright Fight
The Supreme Court asked the U.S. Solicitor General for the administration's position on the copyrightability of application programming interfaces.The Supreme Court has asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli for the government's opinion in a closely watched dispute between Google and Oracle over whether copyright protections should extend to application programming interfaces (APIs). Oracle sued Google back in 2010 over the latter's use of certain Java APIs in its Android operating system. In its lawsuit, Oracle claimed that Google had infringed on its patents and copyrights in doing so. The company is seeking $1 billion in damages from Google. Google and its numerous supporters, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association of America, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard, have argued that software developers need the ability to freely extend and implement existing APIs without any copyright restrictions. They have claimed that APIs are fundamental to software and hardware interoperability and noted that the Internet as it exists today would not have been possible if companies had been allowed to copyright APIs. In May 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court agreed with that sentiment and ruled the Java APIs in question did not have copyright protections. The court held that Google, therefore, had not violated any copyright laws in using them in its Android mobile operating system.
However, two years later in May 2014, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which reviewed the case upon Oracle's appeal, reversed the District Court and held that APIs can indeed by copyrighted. But the appellate court left it up to the lower court to decide if Google could claim fair use as a defense for having used the APIs.