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
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2008 @ 9:03am

    Re: Copies

    if I want more copies of xyz offer that I can't just photocopy them?

    No. I wish it was that simple!

    Coupons.com is like a legitimate adware, rootkit, and possibly spybot all rolled into a happy user interface with a friendly name- Coupons.com. First, when you install the program, it sets up a Coupons.com system-specific printer.

    While installation, it creates a system-specific unique identifier which is sent to Coupons.com to collect information on each coupon you print, and also confirm hardware settings such as system date/time and if your provided zipcode is in the same system-set timezone.

    Next, Coupons.com software doesn't like the Windows Print API-- so they setup their own. Functionally speaking, they limit the quantity of prints you can specify to the printer.

    Next, it tracks what coupons you print, so you can't re-download or re-print a coupon. It then prints a serialized barcode on the coupon based on your system ID. Should you be able to circumvent somehow the software, and acquire the same coupon twice, Coupons.com can and will deactivate your ability to print coupons.

    Basically, DRM for printing coupons for 25-cent off frozen dinners. Yah! Real fun.

    Pass on Coupons.com

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