The Supreme Court has decided not to hear Google’s appeal in the Oracle v. Google case surrounding Android’s use of Java APIs. As a result, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Oracle and its finding that the Java APIs were protected by copyright will stand. This specific case will now move back to the lower courts, which will determine if Google’s use of the copyrighted Java APIs was fair use or if it owes Oracle money.
The case had been closely watched by developers because of its far-reaching implications for their industry. Many had hoped that the Supreme Court would take the case and issue a definitive ruling on whether APIs can be copyrighted. “I don’t think this decision will have much effect” on the software industry, said Pamela Samuelson, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She added, “Some of us were hoping for a little more clarity on copyright, but that will come from other courts.”
Michael Barclay with the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “You shouldn’t let the owner of an API end up owning the other person’s program. I don’t think we’ll find out how bad a day this is for a long time.”