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Oracle wins appeal in copyright battle with Google

UPDATED: A U.S. appeals court said Oracle can be granted copyright protection in parts of Java in a battle with Google over Android's inclusion of the code.
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Written by Zack Whittaker on
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Image: CBS Interactive

In the long-running battle between Oracle vs. Google over the inclusion of Java in the Android operating system, Oracle was awarded an important victory on Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington decided that Oracle should be granted copyright protection over certain parts of Java, the popular programming framework it acquired from Sun Microsystems in 2010, in the ongoing corporate copyright war.

Oracle took Google to court in 2010 alleging that Google had flouted its copyright by including 37 application developer interfaces (APIs) of Java in Android, the world's most popular mobile operating system.

In May 2012, a jury found that Google did not infringe Oracle's patents, but also ruled that the structure of Java APIs used by the search turned mobile giant were not copyrightable.

However, a three judge Federal Circuit panel reversed that ruling on Friday, stating that parts of the code were in fact allowed to be protected by copyright law. 

But a further review is needed to determine exactly the amount of Google's fair use defense.

Oracle's general counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement that the company was "extremely pleased" with the decision, saying Google's attempt would have "drastically limit[ed] copyright protection for computer code."

"The Federal Circuit's opinion is a win for Oracle and the entire software industry that relies on copyright protection to fuel innovation and ensure that developers are rewarded for their breakthroughs. We are confident that the district court will appropriately apply the fair use doctrine on remand, which is not intended to protect naked commercial exploitation of copyrighted material," she added.

Google said it was "disappointed" by the ruling, adding that it "sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development, and are considering our options."

Updated at 3:05pm ET: with a statement from Google.

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