ORACLE AND GOOGLE will decide the future of open-source software in the Supreme Court.
The long-running feud between the two tech giants has already travelled through every part of the court system in the US with appeals being won and lost on an unerring basis. Now the final act will play out in the highest court of the land.
Oracle has argued repeatedly that although its Java code was open-source, the APIs were proprietary and therefore subject to copyright and licensing fees.
Google claims that just isn't cricket and that if the code is free-to-use then charging from the APIs has repercussions not just for Android which heavily depended on them in its early days, but for the entire open-source community.
Google has since written its own code and no longer requires the use of the contested APIs, but Oracle argues that it should still receive royalties worth billions, to cover every single Android device ever released.
But the bigger picture is this - if the ruling goes Oracle's way (and let's face it, Oracle doesn't need the money), then everyone who has ever coded an API will be able to claim copyright on it, making it almost impossible for open-source programmers and back-bedroom developers to make a financially viable career out of their work.
In short - this case could kill the open-source concept as we know it.
The Supreme Court hearing is the last option open to the two parties to resolve the issue and whichever way the verdict goes, that will be that, which puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of those crusty old judges.
But with the current backlash against Big Tech, asking anyone to choose between Google and Oracle is a bit like asking them to choose between sauerkraut and surströmming as a milkshake flavour. μ
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