The Billion Dollar Code
  • Crime
  • Drama
  • Thriller
Directed byRobert Thalheim
Country of originGermany
Original languageGerman
No. of episodes4
Running time58–77 minutes
Production companies
  • Kundschafter Filmproduktion
  • Sunny Side Up Films
Original release
ReleaseOctober 7, 2021 (2021-10-07)

The Billion Dollar Code is a 2021 German television miniseries starring Björn Freiberg, Seumas F. Sargent and Leonard Scheicher.[1][2] Based on true events, the series was developed for Netflix, where it was first aired in October 2021 along with an additional feature story episode.


The plot follows two interconnected timelines. In Berlin of the 1990s, a group of young hackers and art students had founded the ART+COM [de] collaboration to play at the cutting edge of computer programming and digital art. They had developed a planet browser in 1991 which was used by Joachim Sauter to get funding from Deutsche Telekom in 1993 to start the successful development of TerraVision.[3] In the series, the ART+COM beginnings were dropped, while several of the real persons and stakeholders were fused to a smaller cast, with the fictional Carsten Schlüter as the main artist and Juri Müller as the main programmer.

The other storyline revolves around the 2014 patent infringement dispute against Google, alleging that TerraVision was used to develop Google Earth.[4] The fictional character Brian Anderson is based on Brian McClendon and Michael T Jones who did found Keyhole Inc to develop a planet browser.[5] That company was bought by Google in 2004. The movie dramatized facets of the real lawsuit that lasted until 2017, with the script reproducing only parts of the actual court statements to avoid coming into conflict with Google[4] and having key parts of the proceedings fictionalized or omitted.



The miniseries dramatizes the lawsuit, the proceedings of which lasted until 2017. Art+Com lost at trial[8] and on appeal.[9] The filmmakers used portions of the trial transcript to avoid coming into conflict with Google,[4] but key aspects of the trial were entirely fictionalized or omitted.[8] The actual decision of the court was in fact based on other findings.



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Episode 1"Robert ThalheimOliver ZiegenbalgOctober 7, 2021 (2021-10-07)
2"Episode 2"Robert ThalheimOliver ZiegenbalgOctober 7, 2021 (2021-10-07)
3"Episode 3"Robert ThalheimOliver ZiegenbalgOctober 7, 2021 (2021-10-07)
4"Episode 4"Robert ThalheimOliver ZiegenbalgOctober 7, 2021 (2021-10-07)


  1. ^ "Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Billion Dollar Code' On Netflix, About The German Developers Who Sued Over The Google Earth Algorithm". Decider. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  2. ^ "The Billion Dollar Code – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review". The Review Geek. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  3. ^ Sauter, Joachim. "TerraVision - 1994". Retrieved 2021-10-14.
  4. ^ a b c "'The Billion Dollar Code': The battle over Google Earth". Deutsche Welle.
  5. ^ "First amended complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware - ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH. vs GOOGLE INC" (PDF). 2014-03-14. Michael Jones [..] and Brian McClendon [..] were employed at SGI during the period that ART+ COM was developing Terravision. [..] Mr. McClendon was employed by Keyhole and Mr. Jones served on its Board of Directors
  6. ^ Corp, Eddie (2021-10-12). "TerraVision: the story of the pioneering project that rebelled against Google". Archived from the original on 2021-10-30. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  7. ^ Bar-Zeev, Avi (2021-10-14). "Was Google Earth Stolen?". Medium. Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  8. ^ a b c "Docket for ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH v. Google LLC, 1:14-cv-00217 -". CourtListener. Retrieved 2021-10-24.
  9. ^ FindLaw's United States Federal Circuit case and opinions (October 20, 2017). "ART COM INNOVATIONPOOL GMBH v. GOOGLE LLC". Findlaw. Retrieved 2021-10-24.
  10. ^ "Case 1:14-cv-00217-TBD Document 421 Filed 05/31/16 Page 218 of 434 PageID #: 14157" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Michael Jones Changed Our Daily Lives - the Atlantic". The Atlantic. 26 January 2021.
  12. ^ "FindLaw's United States Federal Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved 2021-10-24.
  13. ^ "Stephen Wong Lau Obituary - Pelham, AL". Dignity Memorial. Retrieved 2021-11-05.