Oracle owns the Java language computer source code. The Application Programing Interfaces (API) contained in the source code consist of declaring code (headers, short statements) and implementing code (instructions for carrying out the declared function). Google copied the Java declaring code verbatim (7,000 lines) and replicated (imitated, but didn’t copy verbatim) the overall structure, sequence and organization (SSO) of 37 Java API packages, but wrote its own implementing code for use in its Android mobile device platform.
Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement. Google argued that copyright does not protect the portions of the Java source code it copied. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages are entitled to copyright protection.” (Opinion pdf page 17). Although there are other issues in this case, this post discusses only the Federal Circuit’s copyrightability analysis.