The Supreme Court has come to a decision on the Google v Oracle case regarding Google’s usage of the Java SE API in Android’s Android Runtime, as well as Dalvik VM before it. This has been ongoing since August 2010.
TLDR: It’s fair use, the declaring code is very small and is not implementation, but instead a general organization. As such, it’s fair use.
Let’s read a couple excerpts!
The most succinct description of how this is fair use:
Google copied these lines not because of their creativity or beauty but because they would allow programmers to bring their skills to a new smartphone computing environment.
But does this mean that programs in general are not copyrightable? The following decides that’s not the case:
As part of an interface, the copied lines are inherently bound together with uncopyrightable ideas (the overall organization of the API) and the creation of new creative expression (the code inde- pendently written by Google). Unlike many other computer programs, the value of the copied lines is in significant part derived from the in- vestment of users (here computer programmers) who have learned the API’s system. Given these differences, application of fair use here is unlikely to undermine the general copyright protection that Congress provided for computer programs
How much of the code is considered copied:
If one considers the declaring code in isolation, the quan- titative amount of what Google copied was large. Google copied the declaring code for 37 packages of the Sun Java API, totaling approximately 11,500 lines of code. Those lines of code amount to virtually all the declaring code needed to call up hundreds of different tasks. On the other hand, if one considers the entire set of software material in the Sun Java API, the quantitative amount copied was small. The total set of Sun Java API computer code, includ- ing implementing code, amounted to 2.86 million lines, of which the copied 11,500 lines were only 0.4 percent
However, my favorite part of the entire decision is that they retell one of the world’s shortest short stories:
When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.