The legal battle between Google and Oracle over Java APIs just took a new turn—and it could be good news for developers.
Google has opted to use OpenJDK, the open-source APIs for Java, in its new version of Android, VentureBeat reports. That’s a change from current versions, which are based on Oracle’s proprietary Java Development Kit.
“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community,” VentureBeat quotes a Google spokesperson as saying. “We look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”
The move comes in the wake of a copyright dispute between Oracle and Google that’s several years old. Oracle sued the search-engine giant in 2010, claiming copyright infringement for Google’s use of the Java APIs. Google has argued that it’s impossible to copyright APIs—they’re key to innovation, and therefore a public good—and that even if they are copyrighted, the fair use doctrine protects their use. The case is still making its way through the courts.
In the meantime, Android N developers can now look forward to a simpler app development process based on a common codebase for Java.
But as VentureBeat points out, the final outcome of the case could have implications far more wide-ranging than Google’s changes to Android. If tech companies are allowed to tightly control the use of APIs, it could have a chilling effect on software development.