✨ Google -- and the internet -- notch win over Oracle

It’s a good day to be a coder. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided 6-2 with Google in a years-long lawsuit with Oracle, providing breathing room for programmers to use elements of other APIs as they make their own applications (APIs essentially allow two servers to communicate with each other).

  • The lawsuit was specifically about Android: Google built it with roughly 11,500 lines of Java code, which was owned by Oracle. Oracle wanted $9 billion in damages. 

  • The Justices got deep into the weeds with their decision: Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that elements of APIs are “inherently bound together with uncopyrightable ideas...and the creation of new creative expression.” He added that Google took “only what was needed” to make its program.

This is fantastic news for developers and probably for average internet users

Had the Supreme Court gone the other way, their jobs would have become much more complicated, and the internet would not operate nearly as smoothly. Coding languages regularly draw from each other, and similar building blocks inform many of them. (In October, Breyer noted that copyrighting parts of code in an API would be akin to copyrighting a QWERTY keyboard).

  • In a statement, Google said, “The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers.” 

The Verdict

Oracle, of course, didn’t see things the same way. The company pulled out the monopoly card, saying Google stole the code and used its power to grow bigger.