Google, Oracle copyright case goes back to court

Google, Oracle copyright case goes back to court

Google and Oracle headed back to court Monday in a case that could have significant ramifications for the future of software development.

The companies are meeting in a federal district court in California for a second trial to determine whether Google violated copyright law when it copied elements of Oracle’s Java programming language to build its popular Android operating system.

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Google copied elements of Java’s application programming interface, which developers use to connect two pieces of software, when building Android. It didn’t ask for permission from Oracle, which sued, alleging that it should be able to copyright the commands. The court will now weigh Google’s argument that its actions are protected on fair use grounds.

The case returned to the lower court after the Supreme Court declined to hear Google's appeal of a ruling favorable to Oracle. The Obama administration sided with Oracle and encouraged the high court not to hear the case.

The retrial started on Monday morning in California and continued into the afternoon. An Oracle spokesperson said that the parties were engaged in jury selection around 2:00 p.m. ET. One reporter tweeted late in the afternoon that a jury had been chosen.

Developers say that the outcome of the case could have a significant effect on the way software is built. If the courts ultimately rule that Oracle is able to copyright the Java API, engineers might be uncertain about what they could use — slowing the pace of development.

“Any atmosphere in which there is a significant amount of litigation directed against fundamental programming activity cannot be good for open source or the software industry as a whole, as we’ve seen in the software patent sphere,” the Open Source Initiative told The Hill last summer.

Representatives of the two companies met in April to try and reach a settlement, but were unsuccessful despite the presence of the two companies' CEOs.

"After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried,” a judge wrote. "This case apparently needs to be tried twice."