The Supreme Court is scheduled to review a massive civil lawsuit in Google v. Oracle. In that case, Google copied a large portion of Oracle’s Java software. Ignoring Oracle’s copyright claim over Java, Google allegedly stole thousands of lines of code from the program. The search engine company knowingly replicated precise versions of Oracle’s software, but only after initial licensing negotiations between the companies broke down.
Soon, the highest court in the land will decide whether Google’s actions did indeed constitute theft — as the lower courts ruled — or merely an expression of fair use. The case carries substantial repercussions; if the Supreme Court rules for Google, it will justify the company’s presumptive misuse of power. But more than that, it will incentive Google to act in a similar abusive fashion with future business partners.