Last week, soon after the Copyright Office made their four tiny exemptions to the DMCA, a story started spreading widely saying that the Copyright Office had said it was okay for companies to create chips that circumvent copy protection for use in printer cartridges. This article was the result of a press release from Static Controls, a company engaged in a legal battle with Lexmark over offering such technology. The press release was a bit misleading, and many people misinterpreted the announcement, as if the Copyright Office was a judicial body ruling on the Lexmark case. However, the real details are a bit more complex. First of all, the Copyright Office actually ruled against Static Control's requested exemption - but did say that reverse engineering is already allowed, and therefore doesn't need a special exemption. Static Controls declared that as a victory, and many people incorrectly interpreted this as some sort of judicial victory for Static Controls over Lexmark. However, the Copyright Office is not a judge and wasn't deciding any case. In fact, the court in the actual case ruled against Static Control back in February and granted an injunction against the company preventing them from selling its chips. Meanwhile, Lexmark is still claiming victory themselves - saying that the exemption only applies to reverse engineering and they contend Static Control did more than reverse engineer the chip. They believe Static Control stole the chip design outright. Either way, the case is going back to court and the Copyright Office's rulings should have little impact.
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