Appeal court revives Oracle-Google lawsuit

2014-05-10 21:59


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San Francisco - An appeals court has breathed new life into Oracle's big-money lawsuit against Google by ruling that software commands can be copyrighted just like classic books.

The case stems from a 2012 trial, in which Oracle claimed Google owed them billions in damages for using parts of the Java programming language in its Android smartphone operating system.

The case is being closely watched in Silicon Valley, where some champions of internet freedom worry that extending copyright protection to these bits of code, called application programming interfaces, or APIs, would threaten innovation.

A panel of three judges in the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court in 2012 erred and that it is bound to afford APIs protection under copyright laws "until either the Supreme Court or Congress tells us otherwise."

"We're disappointed - and worried," the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said in a blog post about the appeals court decision.

"The implications of this decision are significant and dangerous."

The foundation and other groups worry the decision could herald an explosion in legal battles over software spreading to copyrights in how code is written.

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