New York Daily News

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Top court sez Google can use Oracle code

- BY NANCY DILLON

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with tech titan Google in its $8 billion copyright clash with Oracle over the Android operating system.

In a 6-2 ruling, the nation’s highest court said Google’s adoption of a portion of Oracle’s Java SE code to create its world-dominating Android smartphone qualified as permissibl­e “fair use.”

Google released its Android platform in 2007 and it quickly became the most popular operating system on smartphone­s around the globe.

According to the high court’s 40-page ruling, Google copied roughly 11,500 lines of code from the Java SE program during the creation of Android, an amount the jurists considered only a small fraction of the millions of lines of code that ultimately created a “new and transforma­tive” product.

“Google copied those lines not because of their creativity, their beauty, or even (in a sense) because of their purpose.

“It copied them because programmer­s had already learned to work with the Sun Java API’s system, and it would have been difficult, perhaps prohibitiv­ely so, to attract programmer­s to build its Android smartphone system without them,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote.

“Further, Google’s basic purpose was to create a different task-related system for a different computing environmen­t (smartphone­s) and to create a platform — the Android platform — that would help achieve and popularize that objective,” he wrote.

“The amount of copying was tethered to a valid, and transforma­tive, purpose,” he wrote.

Two conservati­ve justices — Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — dissented.

Thomas wrote that he believed “Oracle’s code at issue here is copyrighta­ble, and Google’s use of that copyrighte­d code was anything but fair.”

The court’s newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, did not participat­e in the decision because it was argued before she was sworn in to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Google called the ruling a “victory for consumers, interopera­bility, and computer science.”

“The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers,” Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.

Oracle said it was robbed — and insisted the top court’s decision would help Google tighten its alleged strangleho­ld on the market.

“The Google platform just got bigger and market power greater.

“The barriers to entry higher and the ability to compete lower. “They stole Java and spent a decade litigating as only a monopolist can,” Oracle’s chief legal officer, Dorian Daley, said in a statement.

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