Do You Have The Right To Open What You Own?

from the not-entirely-clear dept

Ed Felten has posted the news that a judge has denied a summary judgment in the DMCA case concerning whether or not a company could make a replacement garage door opener. The suing company claims that, by “circumventing” their encryption, the replacement device maker was violating the DMCA. That’s right: opening your garage door with an unapproved device may be a crime. The judge hasn’t ruled on the actual case yet, but does suggest that she thinks the DMCA does not apply since a homeowner should have the right to open their own garage however they see fit. Apparently, though, there’s some confusion on how to reconcile this ruling with previous DMCA rulings. That isn’t a surprise, since many DMCA rulings are problematic. If you go with this judge’s logic (and you probably should) that a person has the right to “open” a product they own, then many DMCA rulings get thrown out. In fact, the entire anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA could get thrown out. Therein lies the problem. The DMCA basically says, contrary to the judge’s opinion, that you don’t have the right to open up what you own. Unfortunately, too many lawyers (and politicians) seem to think this is perfectly reasonable.

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Comments on “Do You Have The Right To Open What You Own?”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

It's all about control(ling who you give your mone

How soon until we see our house door locks becoming electronic and requiring special ‘digitally secured’ keys that are only available from the manufacturer for a significantly higher price than the local locksmith?

We’ve already got car ignition keys that include anti-theft measures that make them difficult to duplicate, how long until the auto manufacturers start claiming DMCA so that you have to buy your keys from them at their artificially inflated prices? My sister’s car has these kinds of keys and when she asked the dealer how much for an extra set of keys they told her it would be $75!! She found a friendly locksmith who made a set for her for $12, but how long until that is illegal?

So far almost every lawsuit I’ve seen the DMCA used for is to eliminate some way in which the ‘copyright holder’ might possibly lose money, i.e., generic ink cartridges, generic garage door openers, etc. It’s not protecting people’s intellectual property, it’s protecting their revenue stream and is thus contributing to anti-competetive behaviour.

The courts need to investigate this anti-competitive behaviour for what it is so that companies are afraid to file DMCA lawsuits so they won’t be investigated for anti-competitive behaviour.

Disclaimer – I’m loopy from cold medicine, so maybe none of this makes sense. Try taking some Tylenol Cold and Sinus pills and see if it becomes clear to you.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: It's all about control(ling who you give your

Disclaimer – I’m loopy from cold medicine, so maybe none of this makes sense. Try taking some Tylenol Cold and Sinus pills and see if it becomes clear to you.

It makes perfect sense to me, Oliver, and I haven’t had any drugs (of the cold and sinus variety) in a long time.

I agree, everything the DMCA has been used for so far (even with the RIAA/MPAA) has been to control the flow of money in an anti-competitive way. But then again, isn’t that the heart of the argument between Intellectual Property Holders and their customers any way? The law specifically makes it legal to prevent (in an anti-competitive way) customers from gaining access to your intellectual property. Instead of doing what the law was explained to congress to do, which is prevent the copying of intellectual property, the law has only served to prevent access from legitimate users to the data, since copying can go on perfectly fine without access to the data.

DMCA is little more than a legally sanctioned access control measure, which will eventually be used by those who are greedy, to prevent access to the data unless you have a large amount of expendible cash to fork over to them on a regular basis.

The DMCA was not what the forefathers intended (otherwise they would have put it into the constitution to begin with), nor is any of this other crap (the mickey mouse protection act, otherwise known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, etc.)

It is part of hollywood and the music businesses plan to screw everyone…and it is working so well that other companies are now using it, some even to screw hollywood and the music business (hurah.)

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