Google has violated the U.S. copyright laws by using application program interfaces (APIs) owned by Oracle, as ruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Two years back, a lower court ruled in the favor of Google stating that the APIs were used fairly by the technology company.
It is about to be a decade since the two technology giants have pitted against each other in this legal battle. Oracle claimed that Google infringed upon their copyrights when they used 37 unlicensed APIs. The APIs were used by Google to create Android OS. However, Google has been countering the allegation and says that its usage of the APIs fell under ‘fair use’.
Oracle initially filed the lawsuit in 2010, seeking $2.6 billion in damages. The case went to a jury in 2016 and the damages were recalculated to be $9.3 billion after the growth of Android platform was factored in. Out of this amount, $8.3 billion represented Google’s profit from Android. Initially, the court ruled that APIs did not qualify for copyright protection, however, in a separate trial pursued in 2014, a decision ruled stating that APIs too are subject to copyright laws. This decision helped Oracle to follow through with their recent appeal.
Google, however, is disappointed by the decision reversal and believes that this ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for the users. Google is now considering other options to appeal. However, the Supreme Court has denied a hearing once but it seems that that the tech giant will continue to appeal. If the ruling stands by the court, the implications would affect developers who frequent use APIs.