37 Oracle APIs are not copyrightable

The structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java APIs at question in the Oracle v. Google case are not copyrightable, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California said in a ruling today.

However, it’s a narrow ruling that only covers the APIs at question in the copyright phase of this case.

Oracle had sued Google over copyright infringement related to the use of 37 Java APIs used on the  android mobile operating system. Google argued they were free to use because the Java programming language is free to use, and the APIs are required to use the language. Oracle tried to make the case that Google had knowingly used the APIs without a license from Sun Microsystems, which was bought by Oracle in 2010.

That’s after the jury came back with a partial verdict in the copyrights phase of the trial a few weeks ago in which the then-12 jurors said that Google had infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights — but they could not come up with a unanimous answer on the question of fair use.

However, now Alsup has handed another win to Google by ruling that the 37 APIs weren’t copyrightable in the first place. Here is the heart of the ruling:

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