March 28 (UPI) — A federal appeals court ruled Google violated copyright laws by using Oracle’s software when developing its Android mobile platform.
Judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Google’s unauthorized use of 37 packages of Oracle’s open-source Java application programming interface, or API, while constructing the Android platform in 2009 was unfair as a matter of law.
“There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,” the panel of judges wrote.
Google argued its use of Oracle’s software was protected under fair use because it didn’t directly charge clients to use it, but Oracle said Google’s actions were “devastating” to its licensing strategy as many customers switched to Android.
“[T]he fact that Android is free of charge does not make Google’s use of the Java API packages non-commercial,” the judges wrote.
The ruling reversed a previous district court decision in favor of Google in 2016 and remanded the case to a federal district court in California for a trial on damages.
Oracle had been seeking about $8.8 billion in damages at the time of the previous ruling.
“The Federal Circuit’s opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law,” Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley said. “This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights.”
Google didn’t state whether it would challenge the ruling, but a representative said the company is “considering our options.”
“We are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone,” the representative said. “This type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users. We are considering our options.”