October 09, 2003

SunnComm v Halderman, speech, and the DMCA

One immediate note on SunnComm suing Alex Halderman case:

RESEARCH PAPERS CAN COUNT UNDER THE DMCA!

The DMCA forbids (emphasis mine):

(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that - ...

Technical papers - even "pure speech" papers - can arguably be considered as technology under the DMCA prohibition above.

See the chilling footnote 275 in the DeCSS case:

FN275. During the trial, Professor Touretzky of Carnegie Mellon University, as noted above, convincingly demonstrated that computer source and object code convey the same ideas as various other modes of expression, including spoken language descriptions of the algorithm embodied in the code. Tr. (Touretzky) ... He drew from this the conclusion that the preliminary injunction irrationally distinguished between the code, which was enjoined, and other modes of expression that convey the same idea, which were not, id., although of course he had no reason to be aware that the injunction drew that line only because that was the limit of the relief plaintiffs sought. With commendable candor, he readily admitted that the implication of his view that the spoken language and computer code versions were substantially similar was not necessarily that the preliminary injunction was too broad; rather, the logic of his position was that it was either too broad or too narrow. ... Once again, the question of a substantially broader injunction need not be addressed here, as plaintiffs have not sought broader relief.

[Updated later - This is the footnote I really wanted, #135]

FN135. In their Post-Trial Brief, defendants argue that "at least some of the members of Congress" understood 1201 to be limited to conventional devices, specifically 'black boxes,' as opposed to computer code. Def. Post-Trial Mem. at 21. However, the statute is clear that it prohibits "any technology," not simply black boxes. 17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(2) (emphasis added).

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

Claimer: This is why I've quit. I wanted to publish a paper taking the exact same approach as the above.

AND I COULDN'T GET SUPPORT FOR IT!!!

It's too risky for me, and not worth it to continue.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism , dmca , legal | on October 09, 2003 06:46 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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