On 13 July 2020, the US Supreme Court released its October schedule, which includes hearing oral arguments in the longstanding copyright dispute between Google and Oracle America on 7 October 2020. The dispute involving the two tech giants has spanned almost a decade and stems from Google’s use of Oracle’s Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in early iterations of its Android operating system. In brief, Oracle has argued that the Java APIs are copyrightable and seeks billions in damages, while Google has argued that its use of the APIs constituted fair use.
While two district courts found in favour of Google, both decisions were reversed by Federal Circuit courts. Google subsequently successfully petitioned the US Supreme Court to consider the case. The key issues to be decided by the US Supreme Court are whether copyright extends to a software interface and whether Google’s use of the software interface to create a new computer program constituted fair use. Commentators have noted that this decision will likely have significant ramifications on software innovation and software interoperability.