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Google will defend itself against Oracle’s charge that it stole code to build its Android operating system before the Supreme Court on Wednesday — and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s absence may be pivotal in a ruling that could shake up Silicon Valley’s business model.

The case is one of the first to be heard by the now 8-member court and Ginsberg’s death likely means one less vote in Oracle’s favor, legal scholars say. It also creates the possibility the remaining justices could split and leave the tech world in limbo on a crucial issue — who controls code that underpins much of modern technology.

“We need a decisive majority opinion in this case to settle critical copyright issues going forward in the digital age, and, without Ginsburg, we may not get it,” said Ralph Oman, the former register of copyrights under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The Google-Oracle case

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