Google makes phones using their proprietary Android software. That software is based off of Oracle’s Java. Google did this so private owners who also happen to be code monkeys, would know how to easily write programs for Android, since unlike the code-Nazis at Apple, Google want you to be able to download or install whatever the hell you want to your phone.
Although Google was based on Java, what they didn’t do is pay Oracle to use Java. They rewrote Android software from scratch, but used the same terms and shit that Java uses, so it wouldn’t be foreign to Java peeps.
Since Java is an open source language (Oracle allows people to code with Java without paying them), Google assumed that shit was what is called “fair use.” The term “fair use” is kinda ambiguous in law, but basically it means, if someone has a copyright on something, there are “fair” uses other people can employ of that product, without violating a copyright. Like if I were writing a magazine article, and I quote a book, I don’t have to get permission from the copyright holder of the book to quote from it, so long as I credit the book, and don’t copy the whole damn thing, shit like that.
A federal district judge sided with Google, saying that if they sided with Oracle, that would prevent innovators from using such software, but then the U.S. Appeals Court sided with Oracle, saying Google probably should have paid Oracle to use their language, but still kinda demonstrated they were open to a “fair use” defense.
Initially, SCOTUS told Google to get fucked, because they were completely disinterested in these code monkeys and their petty grievances.
But then, a jury sided with Google, and were like “fair use motherfuckers!” Then a Federal court reversed yet again, saying it was not fair use, and the jury was apparently comprised of a gaggle of idiots.
So since a million courts seemed to have an opinion at this point, and none of them agreed, SCOTUS was like, “Fine, we’ll listen to your bullshit case, nerds.” We’ll even give you an extra 30 minutes to sort this shit out.
I think a good analogy of Google’s position is basically like this. If I am a company that owns a copyright on a paint, and you make a picture with that paint and sell it, my copyright does not give me any rights to what you created with the paint.
So basically, they’re saying the copyright prevents another company from making a software that’s identical to Java, and calling it their own. But if someone uses Java to create a new software, Oracle doesn’t have a claim to shit.
So the question for the court is do copyrights protect a software interface, and if so, did Google’s usage constitute fair use or not.
In a 6:2 majority, where Justices Thomas and Alito dissented, and Justice Barrett couldn’t be bothered, SCOTUS sided with Google. They felt that this was a fair use, and that siding with Oracle would thwart the progress of science and useful arts.
Thomas and Alito felt the courts should have ruled on whether Oracle’s code was copyright-worthy, and that they felt it was. As such, they felt Google had no business copying it faithfully for their own use, without throwing some bones to Oracle.
You can hear oral arguments and read about the case at Oyez.com.