US Supreme Court won't hear Google appeal in Oracle Java fight

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US Supreme Court won't hear Google appeal in Oracle Java fight

Fair use defence last chance for Google.

Oracle has won a major legal victory in a closely watched copyright case after the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Google's appeal against an earlier ruling that allowed Oracle to charge fees for the use of the Java programming language.

Google had argued it should be able to use Java without paying a fee.

The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to Java.

Google, which used Java to design its Android smartphone operating environment, said in court papers that an Oracle victory would obstruct "an enormous amount of innovation" because software developers would not be able to build freely on each others' work.

Google's Android operating system is the world's most popular smartphone platform.

The litigation now returns to a San Francisco federal court for further proceedings on Google's separate "fair use" defence.

"We will continue to defend the interoperability that has fostered innovation and competition in the software industry," Google said in a statement.

Oracle, however, has said effective copyright protection is the key to software development. Its general counsel Dorian Daley said the Supreme Court decision was a "win for innovation."

Oracle sued Google in 2010 and is seeking roughly US$1 billion on its copyright claims. The case examined whether application programming interfaces, which connect programs, can be copyrighted.

A San Francisco federal judge had decided the Java APIs replicated by Google were not subject to copyright protection and were free for all to use.

But the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that last year, saying it was bound to respect copyright protection for software "until either the Supreme Court or Congress tells us otherwise".

The Obama administration, which was asked to weigh in on the issue earlier this year, asked the Supreme Court not to take the case.

The administration said the dispute had raised important concerns about the effect that enforcement of Oracle's copyright could have on software development, but said those issues could be addressed via Google's fair use defense.

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