Mixed Ruling In Case Over Limitations On DMCA Anti-Circumvention Clause

from the will-have-to-wait-for-the-trial dept

John Stottlemire, who is being sued by Coupons.com in a case we've been covering, writes in himself to let us know that the court has ruled on various motions to dismiss (warning: pdf). If you don't recall, Coupons.com offers online coupons using some software. The software is designed to limit how many copies of a coupon each person can print, but Stottlemire figured out ways to easily get around that limit and both built a tool to do so, as well as explained how to do it manually -- at which point Coupons.com sued him for a DMCA violation, claiming he circumvented their anti-copying mechanism. The specifics of the case are pretty confusing, but basically Coupons.com is trying to stretch the DMCA beyond what it was intended for. The ruling dismisses some of Coupons.com's claims, while allows others to go forward.

It's not a complete win, but the court did deny Coupons.com's attempt to blur the line between "rights-control" and "access-control" which is a good thing. However, on the issue of whether or not just explaining how to circumvent the copy protection by deleting some files is a DMCA violation, the court is allowing that issue to move forward at trial. So while this is a good partial win, we'll still have to wait and see what happens in the next stages of this case to determine whether or not Coupons.com can expand the DMCA.
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Filed Under: anti-circumvention, copyright, coupons, dmca
Companies: coupons.com


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  1. identicon
    Thurston Howell III, 9 Jul 2008 @ 7:51am

    #1: "small question, am i allowed to modify some1 else work (thats if its copyrighted of course)?

    and if the answer to my last question was yes as long as it is for fair use, how can it be fair use if he is making money out of the modifications he made?"

    The simple answer to #1's first question is yes, quotation and modification of copyrighted works is legal in order to create new works, under fair use. In answer to the second question, there is no rule under fair use that says that you can NOT make money out of fair use modification of other works. However NOT making money counts in your favor if you're trying to prove that what you did was fair use.

    In this case, 1) removing files from your own computer should be found to be absolutely legal. 2) telling people about it should be found to be protected speech under the first amendment. 3) BUT, using this knowledge to print extra coupons should be considered fraud.

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