🖥️ Google and Oracle are locked in a ‘game of Jenga’ that could change tech

For the last decade, Oracle has challenged Google for using a variation of Java code (Java was owned by Oracle) for Android. The Supreme Court heard arguments last week, and its decision could determine whether code will remain free and shareable among developers.

  • For Oracle this is about money: Oracle sued because it believes Google’s Java-rooted code entitles it to billions of dollars.

  • But the implications are far bigger: Many code languages are freely available on the internet, and new languages are often derived from past ones. To some extent, journalist Sarah Jeong explains, Silicon Valley has relied on “copy-paste” traditions, which generally make life easier not only for developers but for consumers who know nothing about code. “New languages are derived from the old; new libraries are built on existing ones; dependencies are stacked on top of each other like a game of Jenga that is about to end at any moment. And Google v. Oracle is a case that is happening at one of the lowest levels of an ongoing game of Jenga.”    

The Justices’ comments were as entertaining as they were informative

As The Verge notes, the Justices didn’t give away many hints which way they wear leaning during the oral arguments. Instead, they and the attorneys were dishing out metaphors, comparing code to football and restaurant menus.  

The Verdict

So what did all the metaphor talk mean? We don’t know for sure, but the case is being heard by an 8-person court. In the past, RBG was known for siding with rights holders in copyright cases. Her absence could mean a split court rather than a major decision.