Can The DMCA Be Used To Stifle Speech?
from the we're-about-to-find-out dept
Last summer, we wrote about a very questionable DMCA lawsuit filed by Coupons.com. The company lets people download coupons using its own software. The software is designed to limit how many copies of a coupon people can make. The company accused John Stottlemire of violating the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA by offering up some software that would help people get around the copy limit. However, he didn’t just offer up software to do it, elsewhere he explained how you could do it manually, just by deleting a couple of files on your computer. That’s hardly a “hack.” There was no encryption to defeat, just some files to delete. Basically, Coupons.com couldn’t be bothered to come up with a system that was actually secure and put in only the weakest of “protections.”
Yet, Coupons.com claims that telling people to delete some files is circumventing their copy protection. The EFF (along with the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley) have now filed an amicus brief with the court pointing out the numerous problems with the charges. As the filing notes, the DMCA is focused on people providing a “technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof,” and comments on a website hardly seem to qualify. It also notes that even if the court interprets written comments to be included, the DMCA is specific that it does not diminish any free speech rights. The filing also looks at other problems with the Coupons.com filing, including the company mixing up the difference between access controls and rights controls. Hopefully the judge realizes that this is (yet another) abuse of the DMCA and tosses the case out quickly.