Oracle v. Google: Setting a Standard or Handicapping an Industry?

December 23, 2016

For years the world of software programming has been operating under the assumption that both the declaration code and the structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of Java application program interfaces (APIs) were not copyrightable and were therefore free for all to use. However, when Oracle sued Google in 2014 for Google’s use of Java APIs in the Android Operating System (OS), the Federal Circuit held that the declaration code and the SSO of APIs are protected by copyright, and remanded the case back to the district court. The jury found in favor of Google—who had to rely on a “fair use” defense—and Oracle again appealed to the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit should affirm the jury’s verdict because the district court’s interpretation of the statutory factors align more closely with the nature of software programming. Further, reversing the jury’s verdict could potentially set a negative, restrictive precedent and have detrimental effects on the software industry.