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Jury finds Google’s implementation of Java in Android was fair use

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/05/2016 Kate Conger

Software developers can breathe a massive sigh of relief — a jury found today that Google’s implementation of 37 Java APIs in Android qualified as fair use.

“Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” a Google spokesperson said.

If the jury had found in favor of Oracle, which owns the Java programming language, it may have scared developers away from using other companies’ programming languages in their work — a widespread practice in software development.

Oracle’s fight with Google began in 2010, when Oracle filed a suit claiming Google used implementing code from the Oracle-owned Java programming language without permission. Oracle licenses the use of Java in commercial products, but Google argued that its implementation of the 37 APIs in question fell under fair use because it transformed the bits of Java it used into a unique product — the Android platform.

Judge William Alsup, who also presided over Oracle’s copyright case against Google, frequently praised the jury for its thoughtful approach to this case. In a somewhat unusual move, Alsup allowed jurors to take their notes home with them before they heard closing arguments in the case and during their deliberations, so they could study the facts.

The ruling could indicate the winding down of a legal battle — but Oracle is likely to appeal. We’ve reached out to attorneys on both sides and will update when we hear back.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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