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Microsoft Backs Google Legal Fight to Stop APIs Becoming Copyrightable

Microsoft has written a “friend of court” briefing supporting a Google battle against Oracle to stop APIs being given copyright status.


has joined other tech giants, such as IBM, in filing court documents that support before its court battle in the US. Google is facing the Supreme Court to decide if copyright applies to the interfaces of software applications.

Specifically, the court will hear the Google vs Oracle case in March. had previously gained an advantage when the US Court of Appeals reversed a previous decision that deemed Google's use of Java API package in as “fair use”.

With the decision reversed Google appealed to the court and a new date (March) was set move through the case again.

On January 6, Google issued its opening brief and has gained support from several rivals. IBM, Mozilla, and Microsoft are among the 27 “friend of court” briefs siding with Google. All the companies believe software APIs should not be copyrightable.

Microsoft Briefing

Microsoft said last year's decision “takes an unduly narrow view of fair use that elevates functional code to the same level of copyright protection as the creative expression in a novel”.

According to Microsoft, if the decision is applied it will create a “problematically narrow standard” for evaluating use of code.

“While Google used the software interfaces at issue for the same purpose as in Oracle's Java platform – allowing a program to invoke computer functionalities – it incorporated them into a completely different platform that opened new possibilities for programmers and consumers,” wrote Microsoft.

Microsoft points out APIs are vital for interoperability across numerous services, such as web browsers and the cloud. If company's can copyright APIs, Microsoft argues it would harm the industry and customers.

“If, as in computing's early days, every device had its own proprietary interface, one could never add a product outside a particular vendor's offerings to the system. But in today's interoperable ecosystem, consumers generally can choose smart products based on their merits and functionality, without worrying about compatibility with their existing system,” wrote Microsoft.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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