Google Files Opening Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Java Case

Posted on January 7, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Google with 9 Comments

Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Google’s appeal in the Java case, the search giant filed its opening brief. And other prominent members of the tech community are arguing that an Oracle victory in this case would be “likely fatal to open-source.”

“We’re asking the Court to reaffirm the importance of the software interoperability that has allowed millions of developers to write millions of applications that work on billions of devices,” Google senior vice president Kent Walker explains. “As Microsoft said in an earlier filing in this case, ‘consumers … expect to be able to take a photo on their Apple phone, save it onto Google’s cloud servers, and edit it on their Surface tablets’.”

As Walker explains in the Google post, the Supreme Court will determine whether U.S. copyright laws extend to software interfaces and, if so, whether it is fair to use those interfaces to create new technologies.

“Open interfaces between programs are the building blocks of many of the services and products we use today, as well as of technologies we haven’t yet imagined,” Walker continues. “An Oracle win would upend the way the technology industry has always approached the important issue of software interfaces. It would for the first time grant copyright owners a monopoly power to stymie the creation of new implementations and applications. And it would make it harder and costlier for developers and startups to create more products for people to use.”

Google isn’t alone in this opinion. JavaScript inventor and Brave co-founder Brendan Eich noted on Twitter that the “collateral damage from Oracle winning would be huge, and would likely be fatal to open-source.”

The Google/Oracle Java case heads to the Supreme Court “this Spring,” Google says and the Court has until July to make its decision.

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