While the entire world today hails Google as the inventor of Android, little do people know about the tech giant’s fight with Oracle over the codes that sits at the heart of the world’s most popular mobile smartphone OS.
The battle between Google and Oracle has been going on for ten long years wherein the latter accused the Alphabet-owned company of illegally copying its code.
For the last many years neither Google nor Oracle could reach any out-of-the-court settlement, which is the most preferred way of solving disputes between two companies in the corporate world, especially in the tech industry.
Finally, today, i.e. Wednesday, the case has managed to get the much-needed spotlight as it is being argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Bone Of Contention?
Google made use of Java which is a software owned by Oracle to write close to 11,000 lines of code.
This code, which accounts for less than 0.1% of the whopping 15 million lines used to develop Android, is the bone of contention. Google didn’t pay Oracle any licensing fee to Oracle for using Java, and this is why Oracle currently claims that they are owed close to $9 billions in damages from the search giant.
According to the top lawyer of Oracle Dorian Daley, Google used the Redwood-based company’s software to offer a competing product entirely for free, and that is something which cannot be matched in terms of competition.
Google, on the other hand, holds the opinion that no one should be entitled to claim the ownership of this kind of code. Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs of Google, said that there was a shared and settled understanding of copyright application to the software ever since the tech giant started working on it.
Now, given that the main bone of contention here is all about the code, understanding how it can get a tad bit complicated for the ordinary folks, both parties started resorting to the use of metaphor for making arguments.
In the case of Oracle, they chose the book series of Harry Potter to explain their analogy. They believe Google stole all the key parts of the books such as titles of the chapters, the main character names and so on, after which, it went on to write an entirely new book and sell it before Oracle could have a say in it.
Thus, Oracle is calling out Google as a copyist which ripped off the original, launched their copied work and hampered the market share for the authentic version. However, Google’s side of the story is entirely different.
Those who are on the side of Google in this battle believe that this metaphor is wrong. Robert Cheetham, Founder and CEO of a small software company called Azavea, being one of them considers a more apt metaphor should be the structure of the book itself.
According to Cheetham “It’s the mechanism for accessing and using that book that is the interface for not just Harry Potter, but all books.”
Furthermore, according to Google supporters, the fact that the Alphabet-owned tech giant used Java is how any software is made from scratch. Most developers often rely on using bits of different code to build their programs.
Google-Oracle Verdict: Copyright Laws And Fair Use Terms In Tech
All in all, if not resolve the argument, the case, which is currently being argued in the U.S Supreme Court, will undoubtedly seek to find the answers to two critical questions.
According to Tejas Narechania, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, the case will help figure out –
- If copyright laws extend to this sort of expression or in simple words, will Oracle’s code be able to enjoy the same copyright protection as that a Harry Potter book?
- Even if Oracle can claim they are entitled to such protection, whether Google using the code can be called ‘fair use’.
The answer to these questions depends on how the justices interpret the intricacies of copyright law.
No matter what the ruling comes out to be, it will indeed have a far-reaching impact which goes way beyond these two tech giants.
Everyone from industries which rely heavily on copyright protection laws such as entertainment and publishing to small Silicon Valley companies, have their eyes glued to the outcome.
Now it remains to be seen what that verdict will be.
Whom do you side with, Google or Oracle, in this particular fight? Let us known in the comments down below.