Looking At How The DMCA Changed The Nature Of Competition
from the not-such-a-good-thing dept
Tim Lee writes in to point out that the folks at the Cato Institute have published his new study about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: "A lot of DMCA critics have focused on how DRM undermines fair use by narrowing the ways in which users can consume the content they have legally acquired. That's certainly a valid argument, but I tried to focus on the implications of another type of fair use: the fair use right to use reverse engineering to build a competing product. Prior to the enactment of the DMCA, the courts had consistently turned back efforts by incumbents to use copyright law as a way to exclude competitors from their technology platforms. Most famously, IBM was not able to prevent the creation of IBM clones, because a company called Phoenix used "clean room" reverse engineering techniques to develop a compatible BIOS without directly copying any of IBM's copyrighted software. The DMCA throws that principle out the window, because it makes it a crime to "circumvent" a DRM scheme -- that is, access the content without first getting the permission of the DRM creator." Seems like an interesting comparison of competition pre- and post-DMCA.