I’ve seen my fair amount of plagiarism throughout my collegiate and professional career, but never on the scale of what Google pulled with Java. If you’re unfamiliar with the Google-Oracle case, here’s a brief summation: Oracle, the owner of Java, sued Google for copyright infringement claiming the search giant stole and used Java code as its basis for Android OS. In a press release, Oracle stated, Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property.”
All this came to a head last month when the case went to trial. After several weeks of the two Silicon Valley heavyweights trying to prove their respective points, the verdict was announced: Google violated copyright and patent laws in its development of Android. There is, however, another question at hand: Did Google’s use of the Java language fall under the terms of “fair use.” This is one question, among others, that the jury in the Google-Oracle case could not determine the answer to. According to Stanford University Libraries, “a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and ‘transformative’ purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.”
Now, this begs the question: Can Google’s use of Java’s code, et al be construed as a parody, criticism or comment on Java? Despite my title, I’m no copyright expert, but I’m willing to say, “No.” But because the jury could not determine whether or not Google’s use of the Java structure was fair use, Google has called for a mistrial. This is just the beginning of a long legal battle between the two companies.
We want to know what you think about the Google-Oracle case. Do you think Google’s use of the Java API falls under fair use or was it a complete copyright violation? Tell us in the comments.