Even if you’re no fan of Google, you should be happy it won. Thanks to ten good citizens of a San Francisco jury, the tech world—and ultimately consumers—will be spared a legal nightmare that could have driven up the price of a wide range of software and devices.
This comes after the latest courtroom slugfest between Oracle (ORCL) and Google (GOOG) over who can control APIs, a basic tool that allows computer programs to talk to each other, and that are an essential building block of software development today.
The court fight ended on Thursday when a jury ruled that Google’s use of Java APIs was a fair use under copyright law, dashing Oracle’s hopes of collecting $9 billion in fees and damages:
News of the verdict spread quickly on Twitter:
The tech community was quick to hail the verdict as good news:
The cause for celebration is the fair use finding, which does a lot to undo the damage from an appeals court ruling in 2014. That ruling, which overturned a judge’s finding that APIs cannot be copyrighted in the first place, triggered shock and disbelief among many in the tech community. They feared that giving Oracle rights to control the APIs would create a chilling effect as developers would be unsure about what they could and could not do to write code.
The concern deepened last year when the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. But Thursday’s verdict means that, for now, the worst fears are lifted.
Of course, not everyone was happy about the outcome.
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This may not be the end, however. Oracle has already said it will keep fighting—and take the matter back to the court that set this all in motion in the first place.
While there is a chance the appeals court will take the unusual step of overturning the jury verdict, the appeals process also offers another opportunity for the case to reach the Supreme Court—which could then clear up the copyright question once and for all. In the meantime, many tech types will go to bed happy.