This could strike a huge blow to the idiotic clause in the DMCA that forbids circumventing DRM locks. I’m crossing my fingers on further developments.
Telling users how to strip the DRM from their legally purchased ebooks is not contributory copyright infringement, according to a ruling last month by a federal judge in New York. Judge Denise Cote dismissed two publishers’ claims of contributory infringement and inducement in Abbey House Media v. Apple Inc., one of the many cases to come out of the antitrust litigation against Apple and a handful of major publishers.
The massive missive, passed in 1998, governs the tense and often amorphous intersection of intellectual property and physical property. The law was birthed when digital piracy (of things like DVDs and music) first and truly reared its head. As a reaction, Congress built “anti-circumvention” edicts into Section 1201 of the DMCA. The provision makes it a violation of copyright law to break any sort of technological protection measure over content—like, say, the encryption on DVDs. But the DMCA doesn’t take intention into account. Breaking the lock is a violation, whether or not the locked content is actually pirated.
Copyright isn’t just about pirating music or downloading DVDs anymore. Like a creature alive, copyright is evolving and expanding. Traditional “dumb” products are being replaced by an internet of things — and copyright is hitching along for the ride. Its DNA is being woven through the programming that powers your car, the firmware in your phone, the code in your kid’s talking teddy bear, and the software that calibrates your hearing aid.
It’s that time again: every three years, the Copyright Office allows the public to ask for exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s ban on “circumvention,” which prevents you from unlocking devices you own.
When the player count fades, online games often end up shuttered by publishers who can no longer pay for the servers and staff to maintain them. The EFF has asked for an exemption to copyright rules that make reverse-engineering netcode an iffy legal proposition. The aim? To allow online games to live forever on third-party servers.