Yesterday's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversing a jury decision on Google's use of Oracle's Java API packages "protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights," according to a statement from Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley.
However, advocates of fair use in copyright law say yesterday's ruling could cost Google $9 billion in damages as well as put a deep chill on future tech innovation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital rights organization, called the reversal "a surprising decision that should terrify software developers."
As Oracle yesterday welcomed the opportunity to revive its original 2010 complaint against Google, it also unveiled a new service that's the first based on its "self-driving" Oracle Autonomous Database. The Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud automates database administration and management tasks for enterprise customers, and is being positioned as a far cheaper alternative to Amazon Web Services, which dominates the "as-a-service" cloud market.
'Upholds Fundamental Principles'? or 'A Travesty'?
Since Oracle first filed suit against Google for using its Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in the development of the Android mobile operating system, the complaint has taken several twists and turns. In May 2012, a Northern California district court jury found there was no infringement, but that verdict was partially reversed and the case was sent back to the district court in May 2014. A second jury trial also found in favor of Google in May 2016, but that decision was reversed yesterday and the case remanded back to the district court.
"[W]e conclude that Google's use of the 37 Java API packages was not fair as a matter of law," the appeals court ruled yesterday. "We therefore reverse the district court's decisions denying Oracle's motions for JMOL [judgment as a matter of law] and remand for a trial on damages."
"The Federal Circuit's opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law," Oracle counsel Daley said in a statement following yesterday's ruling. "This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights."
However, Pamela Samuelson, a University of California at Berkeley law professor and vice chairwoman of the board at EFF, offered a scathing difference of opinion on Twitter yesterday.
"Congress needs to amend law so Federal Circuit cannot rule on copyright cases when no patent issue is on appeal. Deciding no fair use as a matter of law in Oracle v. Google is a travesty," Samuelson said.
"The Federal Circuit has upended decades of software industry practice and created legal uncertainty that will chill innovation," EFF legal director Corynne McSherry added in a commentary. "We hope Google takes this to the Supreme Court so that the justices can clean up yet another Federal Circuit mess."
More Autonomous Cloud Services on the Way
Meanwhile, Oracle yesterday took aim at another tech giant competitor -- Amazon -- with the launch of its new Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud. Built on the Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud announced in October, the new service "uses machine learning to deliver industry-leading performance, security capabilities, and availability with no human intervention, at half the cost of Amazon Web Services," Oracle said.
Oracle said the new service offers enterprise customers a fast, easy, and elastic way to manage cloud data warehousing and automate database administration tasks with "zero operational administration on the customer's part." The company added that the service is just the first of many it plans to develop on top of the Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud.
Other services in the works include Oracle Autonomous Database for Transaction Processing, Oracle Autonomous NoSQL Database for the large-scale read and write functionality required for Internet of Things applications, and Oracle Autonomous Graph Database for network analysis. All of those automated services will self-manage, self-secure, and self-repair, Oracle said.
During Oracle's announcement event yesterday, executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said the autonomous database was "based on technology as revolutionary as the Internet."
In a report released in January, Alexei Balaganski, an analyst with KuppingerCole, said Oracle's approach toward autonomous databases offered "immense potential benefits not just for reducing labor and costs for customers, but for dramatically improving database's resiliency against both human errors and malicious activities, internal or external."