In the case of Oracle America v. Google, the District Court of Northern California ruled on whether or not Google's reimplementation of 37 Java APIs constituted fair use. My question is, how - in the said jury's opinion - is Google's action "fair use"?

1 Answer 1


Here are the jury instructions.

These describe how to evaluate witness testimony, burdens of proof, and the four-factor fair use test, among other things.

The jury had to answer yes or no to the following question:

Has Google shown by a preponderance of the evidence that its use in Android of the declaring lines of code and their structure, sequence, and organization from Java 2 Standard Edition 1.4 and Java 2 Standard Edition Version 5.0 constitutes a "fair use" under the Copyright Act?

They answered yes. Juries do not explain their reasoning (different jurors might even have different reasonings), but the assumption is that they followed the jury instructions to arrive at this conclusion.

To be clear, the issue wasn't reimplementation of 37 Java APIs, but a more limited taking, including "the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization".

  • "To be clear, the issue wasn't reimplementation of 37 Java APIs" - Right, Oracle wasn't suing Google for writing ""different code that produces the same results"", as Oracle has 0% chance of winning that. They were suing over Google writing code that shares the same function signatures and function names. Which is dumb if the jury let them win over that (it'd legally throw a wrench in alot of existing software - including some of Oracle's own), but Oracle had a good chance of winning. In another Oracle claim, Google copied actual code and documentation - that, Google will likely pay for.
    – Jamin Grey
    Mar 20, 2019 at 3:57

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