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Supreme Court rules in Google’s favor in copyright dispute with Oracle over Android software

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Larry Page, chief executive officer of Google Inc., right, speaks to the media while arriving at court in San Jose, California, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.

Ryan Anson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Google against Oracle in a long-running copyright dispute over the software used in Android, the mobile operating system.

The court’s decision was 6-2. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was not yet confirmed by the Senate when the case was argued in October, did not participate in the case.

The case concerned about 12,000 lines of code that Google used to build Android that were copied from the Java application programming interface developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010. It was seen as a landmark dispute over what types of computer code are protected under American copyright law. Oracle had claimed at points to be owed as much as $9 billion.

Oracle sued Google over the use of its code and won its case twice before the specialized U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s decision.

Read more: Justices wary of upending tech industry in Google v. Oracle Supreme Court fight

Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, reasoned that Google’s use of the code was protected under the copyright doctrine of fair use.

“We reach the conclusion that in this case, where Google reimplemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google’s copying of the Sun Java API was a fair use of that material as a matter of law,” Breyer wrote.

Breyer was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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