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Court Rules That Bypassing Dongle Is Not a DMCA Violation 266

Posted by kdawson
from the watch-out-you-ink-cartridges dept.
tcrown007 sends along an appeals court ruling that, for once, limits the reach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention clause. "MGE UPS makes UPS systems and software that are protected by hardware dongles. After the dongles expired, GE bypassed the dongles and continued to use the software. MGE sued, won, and has now lost on GE's appeal. Directly from the court's ruling (PDF): "Merely bypassing a technological protection that restricts a user from viewing or using a work is insufficient to trigger the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision... The owner's technological measure must protect the copyrighted material against an infringement of a right that the Copyright Act protects, not from mere use or viewing.' Say what? I think I just saw a pig fly by."
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Court Rules That Bypassing Dongle Is Not a DMCA Violation

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  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine @ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:03PM (#33023014) Homepage

    [quote]MGE sued, won, and has now lost on GE's appeal.[/quote]

    TFA:

    [quote]A jury awarded MGE more than $4.6 million in damages for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets, but the trial judge dismissed its Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim. MGE appealed, arguing that its dongles barred the kind of access to its software that the Act is meant to prevent.[/quote]

    MGE appealed the trial judge throwing out the DMCA claim. The appeals court confirmed the ruling. GE didn't appeal anything.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:14PM (#33023102) Journal

    Conclusion. VI.
    For the foregoing reasons, [1] we AFFIRM the district court's grant of
    GE/PMI's Rule 50(a) motion dismissing MGE's DMCA claim. [2] We also AFFIRM
    the district court's grant of a permanent injunction against GE/PMI's use of
    MGE's software and trade secrets. [3] We REVERSE the district court's denial of
    GE/PMI's Rule 50(a) motion on MGE's copyright infringement, unfair
    competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets claims for MGE's failure to
    prove damages under 17 U.S.C. 504(b) and Texas law, [4] and RENDER a takenothing
    judgment for MGE.

    GE/PMI already paid for what they've done (the Rule 50 motions) and the injunction effectively means they'll either have to setup a new support contract or replace the UPS systems.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:31PM (#33023228)

    The real problem with the DMCA is that it criminalizes "trafficking" in anti-circumvention technology, even when both the provider and the recipient intend to make legal copies.

    I think you mean it criminalizes "trafficking" in circumvention technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:35PM (#33023252)

    You also seem to have missed the fact that you need to preview your post before submitting it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, 2010 @06:04PM (#33023818)

    In the PsyStar vs. Apple case, I believe it was ruled that Apple could not claim copyright infringement on the copies of Mac OS loaded into RAM when each of the computers booted.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @06:36PM (#33024006)

    Citation needed, copies to RAM are not counted as copying for the purposes of copyright law in the US.

    Wrong. It counts as copying. But it is copying that is allowed by law _if you have the right to use the software_ in the first place, just like making a backup copy. If you don't have the right to use the software, then every time you load the software into RAM you commit copyright infringement.

  • by ep32g79 (538056) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @06:53PM (#33024068)
    MAI Systems Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc., 991 F.2d 511 (9th Cir. 1993)

    and more recently

    MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc and Vivendi Games, Inc. No. 06-2555, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53988, 2008 WL 2757357 (D. Ariz. Jul. 14, 2008)
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @09:08PM (#33024794) Homepage

    Actually, that interpretation to me sounds like nonsense. You can very well copy a DVD image without DeCSS'ing it, and then use DeCSS on-the-fly to play it. The "copy protection" of CSS depends on the CSS key being only in a few approved devices just like this software only works with approved dongles. If it's not a violation of the DMCA to turn an unusable copy into a functional copy, then effective DeCSS doesn't protect against copyright violation either.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @10:10PM (#33025076) Homepage Journal

    I actually read that entire PDF. The reasoning is so convoluted, I fear my brain has twisted around itself. How do I unread it?

    Really - having read it, all I got from it was that the claimant failed to prove damages. Well - that, and the fact that downloading and using a hacked software doesn't make me liable for bypassing DMCA. The second part is the only part that really matters to most slashdotters. But, the first point seems at least as important. If the claimant cannot reasonably demonstrate real damages, then he should be entitled to NOTHING!!

  • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:03AM (#33029286)
    What makes your questions interesting has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. You could replace copying in your examples with other torts or crimes that you're unintentionally abetting.

    For example, if it rains, and the rain freezes to my walkway, and I don't clear it off or post a sign, and somebody walks up to my door but slips and severely injures themself, am I liable? (yes!)

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