On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review Oracle’s copyright infringement case against Google. Software copyright cases are typically dull affairs, where lawyers get rich, licensing fees change hands, and business continues as usual. But when the Supreme Court passed on hearing Google’s appeal of an earlier Federal Circuit decision in Oracle’s favor, pundits and advocacy groups warned of deep, disturbing implications.
Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee said the news was “a disaster for the software industry,” warning of “more compatibility problems and less innovation.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation drew a similar conclusion, saying the case would have a “profound negative impact on interoperability, and, therefore, innovation.” InfoWorld‘s Simon Phipps declared the Supreme Court’s denial a “sad day for developers,” at least in the United States.
They’re probably right. And yet, I’ve had trouble finding actual developers who are lamenting this case. There just haven’t been a lot of app makers screaming about it, and the tech advocacy groups I spoke with provided few examples of industry nervousness. The truth is that many of the apps and services we enjoy today won’t be directly affected by Oracle vs. Google. What’s more frightening is that we don’t know about tomorrow.