U.S. Supreme Court sides with Google in Android copyright dispute with Oracle

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Alphabet Inc.’s Google a big victory on Monday, ruling that its line-for-line use of Oracle’s software code to build the Android operating system did not violate federal copyright law.

Google breakup. Image: Google logo

Andrew Chung for Reuters:

In a 6-2 decision, the justices overturned a lower court’s ruling that found Google’s inclusion of Oracle’s software code in Android did not constitute a fair use under U.S. copyright law.

The ruling spares Google of a potentially massive damages verdict. Oracle had been seeking more than $8 billion, but renewed estimates went as high as $20 billion to $30 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Oracle’s lawsuit accused Google of plagiarizing its Java software by copying 11,330 lines of computer code as well as the way it is organized, to create Android and reap billions of dollars in revenue.

Google said it did not copy a computer program but rather used elements of Java’s software code needed to operate a computer program or platform. Federal copyright law does not protect mere “methods of operation.”

MacDailyNews Take: Quite obviously, Google has a license to steal, but, even then, all they’ve got to show for it are a raft of poor man’s iPhones.

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. – Steve Jobs

See also: How Tim Cook waged Steve Jobs’ thermonuclear war and dismantled Android.


  1. This is actually pretty scary, since seems to say that the source code for a proprietary application programming interface cannot be protected by copyright because it is “not a computer program” but only “a method of operation” for a computer. I have no idea what that means, and I doubt the six justices do.

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