Apple Filed A Silly, Questionable DMCA Notice On A Tweeted iPhone Encryption Key... Before Backing Down

from the copyright? dept

Copyright continues to serve its purpose as a tool for censorship, it seems. This week there was some hubbub over Apple's highly questionable decision to send a DMCA takedown notice over a tweet by a security researcher who goes by "Siguza," and who appeared to publish an iPhone encryption key on Twitter:

Twitter took it down upon receipt of the takedown notice, but later put it back after Apple rescinded the takedown -- either realizing that the takedown was bogus or futile (or, I guess, both).

You can understand (sorta) why Apple would want to protect the key, but copyright seems like exactly the wrong tool for the job. Of course, that's often the case, but copyright is such an easy tool to abuse to try to silence speech that it is often the preferred tool of would-be censors. This is just one example. But it does raise questions. Is an encryption key even copyright-eligible? That seems highly unlikely. Copyright only is supposed to apply to the creative elements of a work, and it would be difficult to argue that an encryption key meets the "creative" level necessary. US courts have already decided that phone numbers are not subject to copyright (even made up numbers), so it seems unlikely that an encryption key would pass muster for getting a copyright.

Potentially Apple could have been making a DMCA 1201 "anti-circumvention" argument as well -- but even that seems silly, and only highlights the problems of the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the DMCA. When a single tweet with a single code is seen as "circumvention" then there's a big problem -- and that problem is the law.

It's good that Apple backed down on this, though it still highlights the problems of the DMCA takedown process, and how it can be used unfairly for censorship -- even if that "censorship" completely backfired this time.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: censorship, copyright, dmca, encryption key, jailbreaking, research, security, siguza
Companies: apple, twitter


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread



Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.