An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The Supreme Court said on Friday that it will hear a dispute between tech giants Oracle and Google in a blockbuster case that could lead to billions of dollars in fines and shape copyright law in the internet era. The case concerns 11,500 lines of code that Google was accused of copying from Oracle’s Java programming language. Google deployed the code in Android, now the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Oracle sued Google in 2010 alleging that the use of its code in Android violated copyright law.
Google won two victories in the lower courts but ultimately lost on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last year for Oracle. Oracle has previously said it is entitled to $9 billion in damages, though no official penalty has been set. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle purchased in a deal valued at $7.4 billion that was completed in 2010. Underlying the legal issues in the case is a technical dispute over the nature of the code that Google used. Google has said that the code was essentially functional — akin to copying the placement of keys on a QWERTY keyboard. Oracle maintains that the code, part of Java’s application programming interface, or API, is a creative product, “like the chapter headings and topic sentences of an elaborate literary work.” A number of high-profile tech firms urged the top court to take the case in order to side with Google.
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