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Thread: DMCA Strikes Again

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2003

    DMCA Strikes Again

    Hey Hey,

    I figured since this deals with 'algorithmic keys' and 'circumventing permissions' that I'd post it here in Misc. Security.
    DMCA Hammer comes down on tech service vendor

    This just in: A district court in Boston has used the DMCA to grant a preliminary injunction against a third party service vendor who tried to fix StorageTek tape library backup systems for legitimate purchasers of the system.

    How is this a DMCA violation? Well, it turns out that StorageTek allegedly uses some kind of algorithmic "key" to control access to its "Maintenance Code", the module that allows the service tech to debug the storage system. The court found that third party service techs who used the key without StorageTek's permission "circumvented" to gain access to the copyrighted code in violation of the DMCA, even though they had the explicit permission of the purchasers to fix their machines.

    What does this ruling mean? If it stands up on appeal, it means StorageTek has a monopoly on service for all of its machines. No independent vendor will be able to compete with them for service contracts because no independent vendor will be authorized to "access" the maintenance code necessary to debug the machine.

    The DMCA was meant to stop digital piracy, not inhibit legitimate competition in the computer services market. How many more markets will we allow this law to kill before someone fixes it?

    p.s. The Court also found, in a bizarre twist of logic, that while it is legal to load a program into RAM for repairs, it's illegal to allow it to persist in RAM while you fix it. I don't even know where to begin with that one.
    While what this does for companies and monopolies is bad enough (say goodbye to competition), this could get very scary... and once again makes me glad I'm not American.

    I've bolded two sections. The first one scares me, if I interpret it correctly.. any type of reverse engineering would fall under this. Because software like Crossover Office, Wine and WineX have found ways to make Windows software run without Windows does that mean that MS could go after them on similar grounds? Could car manufacturers go after the makers of code reader boxes. Without Reverse engineering there'd be no future development... You can build something new without a base to start on.

    The second one is just different.. Does this mean if I boot with ERDCommander to retrieve a password that I can load it into RAM, but it can't be in RAM while I actually change my password? I'm not quite sure I follow how this will work... does anyone have any further details?

    IT Blog: .:Computer Defense:.
    PnCHd (Pronounced Pinched): Acronym - Point 'n Click Hacked. As in: "That website was pinched" or "The skiddie pinched my computer because I forgot to patch".

  2. #2
    Senior Member Maestr0's Avatar
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    May 2003
    RE is excluded under the "interoperability" clause of the DMCA, however if you RE some code in order to make your product/service interoperable, you cannont simply COPY the original authors chunk of code which was the case in a similar battle with Lexmark and a company who was manufacturing toner cartriidges that worked in Lexmarks. Lets hope this case doesnt go any where, this kind of legislatiion is already stifiling compettition,creativity,and curiosity. The
    DMCA can suck my balls.

    \"If computers are to become smart enough to design their own successors, initiating a process that will lead to God-like omniscience after a number of ever swifter passages from one generation of computers to the next, someone is going to have to write the software that gets the process going, and humans have given absolutely no evidence of being able to write such software.\" -Jaron Lanier

  3. #3
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    Jun 2003
    People need to boycott scum companys like StorageTek that use such tactics. A StorageTek sucks site needs to be put up.
    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Jun 2003

    I am glad you are glad you are not an American, and I too see value in boycotting **** companies like this. There is no value in these tactics outside of shutting out other service competitors. Now here I go I just had another thought, if they are actually unlocking the code and modifying it that kind of breaks copywright? WHat if the are changing the core software code?
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  5. #5
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    Jul 2003
    So I guess it is definitely illegal to tap into a car's ECU for changes... maybe we should all take our cars back to the original dealers "Umm yeah, I'd like the ECU modified, and although I know my car would not be street legal afterwards, I want you guys to do it so I don't get sued under the DMCA".

    It is scary. I hope nothing similar ever catches on in Canada. Otherwise [with software patents and what not] the whole Open Source community will have to move in the underground. Could this be used in a similar fashion against let's say OO being able to work .doc files?

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Feb 2002
    The DMCA was originally intended to protect the copyright holders against unauthorized copying of their products. You might think of it as a shield. The DMCA is fast becoming a sword instead of a shield. This StorageTek case is just the beginning, folks.....

  7. #7
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    Nov 2001
    This case is hardly the beginning. There has been outcry about the DMCA since its creation, but government has no interest in reworking it, lawyers do not posess the technical know-how to argue the case appropriately, nor do judges understand the technology to a degree with which their rulings could be accurate. These rulings should not be made by a single person with only a brief understanding of the issues involved. The fundamental problem with the DMCA is that the spirit of the law is not easily understood by the people enforcing it.
    Chris Shepherd
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  8. #8
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    Nov 2003
    I know a secret to beat the DMCA. Want to know it? It's fullproof.


  9. #9
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    SBG: Did you RTFA?

    It talks nothing about stealing the so called materials.

    It talks about being able to choose who you want to maintain your devices.

    This company thinks that ONLY they should be able to maintain hardware that they manufacturer.

    Thats like saying: If you buy a computer from Dell, only dell can maintain it. You can't switch out any of the new hardware that you want to add. You can't even add memory.

    If you open the box you are in violation of the DMCA because they have a special latch that nobody else has and you have circumvented it in the process of opening the box.
    Quitmzilla is a firefox extension that gives you stats on how long you have quit smoking, how much money you\'ve saved, how much you haven\'t smoked and recent milestones. Very helpful for people who quit smoking and used to smoke at their computers... Helps out with the urges.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Wait! Hold up! I think you're mistaking me for someone who gives a $|-|IT.

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