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Communications of the ACM

Legally speaking

Fair Use Prevails in Oracle v. Google

Fair Use Prevails in Oracle v. Google, illustrative photo

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

Oracle and Google have been battling in the courts for more than six years about whether Google infringed Oracle copyrights by using 37 packages of the Java application program interface (API) in developing the Android platform for smartphones. In May 2016, a jury rejected Oracle's copyright claim and decided that Google's use of these 37 packages was fair and non-infringing. Oracle's lawyers have announced that the company plans to appeal. This column will explain why Oracle's appeal is unlikely to succeed and why that's good news for Java programmers, for the software industry, and for the public.

But before getting to that, this column will relate some facts about the litigation, about fair use as a defense to copyright infringement, and about Oracle and Google's arguments about the fair-use defense.


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