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InfoQ Homepage News Jury Finds Only 9 Lines of Copyrighted Code in Oracle vs Google Case

Jury Finds Only 9 Lines of Copyrighted Code in Oracle vs Google Case

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The Google versus Oracle trial completed the copyright phase last week, with the jury sent out to debate on the merits of the copyright infringement claims of Google's use of Apache Harmony's source code. By the end of last week, the jury had already decided unanimously on three out of the four questions but took the weekend to decide on the fourth.

Judge Alsup created a Special Verdict Form, asking:

  1. Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed the overall structure, sequence and organisation of copyrighted works?
  2. Has the documentation of the 37 Java API packages as a group been proven as infringed?
  3. Has Oracle proven that Google's use of code is infringing in (A) the rangeCheck in the TimSort class, (B) the seven Impl files and ACL file or (C) the comments in CodeSourceTest and CollectionCertStoreParametersTest?

These answers are now in, with the jury agreeing that the TimSort implementation was infringing (but the others were not) and with the SSO is violated. (The filled in special verdict form is available as a PDF). The jury, however, was unable to come to a unanimous verdict on whether Google had made “fair use” of Oracle’s intellectual property.

The Judge previously ordered the jury to assume that the SSO was copyrightable, but will be making the final decision himself at the end of the trial. So the fact they have found for the one part they were ordered to is not a surprise; but it means that the only win for Oracle thus far is in the rangeCheck method, in code that Google contributed to OpenJDK and since has removed.

Since this court case started, the European Union has ruled that The functionality of a computer program and the programming language cannot be protected by copyright, in a case which is seen to be closely related to the current case. In the other example, SAS Institute claimed that they had copyright on the language, preventing World Programming Limited from re-implementing the language:

The Court recalls, first, that the Directive on the legal protection of computer programs1 extends copyright protection to the expression in any form of an intellectual creation of the author of a computer program2. However, ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its interfaces, are not protected by copyright under that directive. Thus, only the expression of those ideas and principles is protected by copyright.

The court case now moves on to consider the alleged patent infringements.

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