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Google copyright confusion

May 8, 2012

A US jury has ruled that internet giant Google violated copyright owned by Oracle to build its popular Android mobile software. But they failed to agree whether Google's actions were legal under the "fair use" defense.

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Image: dapd

A jury in San Francisco was only able to reach a partial verdict on Monday in a high-profile technology case brought by Oracle Corp. against internet giant Google Inc.

Oracle had been seeking up to $1 billion (766 million euros) in damages over claims that Google had built its popular Android mobile software using copyrighted technology from the Java programming platform, which was bought by Oracle two years ago.

While the court agreed that Google violated Oracle's copyright on nine lines of Java code, it was undecided on whether Google's actions were legally protected under the "fair use" defense.

Google had denied liability, saying it was led to believe it did not need a license to use Java technology. It argued that it only used parts of Java that are freely available.

"There has been zero finding of liability on any copyright so far," US District Court Judge William Alsup told the rival attorneys after the jury left his San Francisco courtroom.

"The affirmative defense of fair use is still in play."

Without a determination on whether the copyright infringement did constitute fair use, Oracle can only seek statutory damages worth between $200 and $150,000. Google has asked that a mistrial be declared.

Patent infringements examined

The same jury will now hear evidence in the next phase of the trial, covering alleged patent infringements. Oracle has alleged that Android violated two Java patents.

While copyright was described in the courtroom as applying to written works, such as songs, a patent was said to be on par with a property deed issued to inventors which gives them rights to protect their creations.

ccp/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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