To Make Its Case, Coupons.com Says It Blocks Users When It Doesn't
from the let's-get-this-straight dept
The programmer, John Stottlemire, who is being sued in this case, writes in to let us know that Coupons.com has just described its system in a misleading way in order to convince the court that its software really is copy protection rather than use protection, claiming: "The features block an individual computer's access to a particular coupon offer altogether if that computer does not have the proper registry keys in place." In other words, there is copy protection that blocks access if the registry keys are missing.
That claim may sound a lot like copy protection, but that's not actually how their system works. Coupons.com doesn't block access to its coupons based on a registry key -- because if you don't have a registry key, Coupons.com simply issues you new one. And that's not how copy protection usually works; that's how usage protection works. If the system worked the way it was described to the court, then first-time users, who would not have the proper registry keys, should not be able to use Coupons.com because they would be blocked from accessing coupons. But Coupons.com doesn't do that to new users -- all users without registry keys are simply given new keys (and not blocked whatsoever).
Basically, Coupons.com appears to be pretending that its software doesn't work without a certain registry key in order to convince the judge that its software actually qualifies under the DMCA as copy protection. But, if it were copy protection, then Stottlemire's programs (or written instructions) for how to defeat the software by deleting the registry key wouldn't work. All Stottlemire's method of "circumvention" would do is trigger the copy protection to deny access. So, either Coupons.com is lying to the judge, or Stottlemire's program and instructions couldn't have done what they claim it did (in which case he wouldn't have broken the law). So... basically, it sounds like Coupons.com is either lying or they have no case. And, if they're lying, they don't have much of a case either.