Monday, November 03, 2003

Declan McCullagh tells us that the US Copyright Office have offered qualified support to Static Control in their ongoing DMCA dispute with Lexmark. Lexmark have successfully sued and got an injunction against Static Control to prevent them supplying cheaper refill cartridges for Lexmark printers. The cheaper refills apparently bypassed copy control technology built into the Lexmark versions. A good example of an OEM cornering the market in spares by building in digital fences and throwing their weight around on the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA - and not what the law was intended to be used for. The law already says you can bypass copy control/access measures "for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability." That is a less well known provision of the DMCA.

It remains to be seen how this opinion from the copyright office will affect the case. There are other substantive issues such as Static Control's alleged direct copyright infringement of Lexmark programs that may still swing the case Lexmark's way at the appeal.

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