Intel Threats

“There are laws to protect both the intellectual property involved as well as the content that is created and owned by the content providers,” said Tom Waldrop, a spokesman for the company, which developed HDCP. “Should a circumvention device be created using this information, we and others would avail ourselves, as appropriate, of those remedies.”

What standing does Intel have to sue? If someone uses the algorithm they can effectively create the HDCP authorization, so it’s not bypassed. Now if said device allows someone to output it to a non-HDCP device, would that be circumventing the DRM? To me, circumvention is evasion or overcoming of some measure; if the measure is left in place, you’re not exactly evading it.

Further, there was a case a couple years ago where Lexmark tried to invoke the DMCA against a company for reverse engineering its software. The company won the case for the circumvention because, as per “The Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Technologies, Inc.”, “(1) they had ownership of a copyrighted work, (2) it was controlled by a technological measure that was circumvented (3) third parties can access it (4) without authorization in a way that (5) infringes rights protected by the Copyright Act due to a product created, advertised, or provided by the defendant…” and in the Lexmark case (Lexmark Int’l v. Static Control Components) the court said “‘Lock-out’ codes—codes that must be performed in a certain way in order to bypass a security system—are generally considered functional rather than creative, and thus unprotectable.” Thus, there’s no copyright claim. As for the DMCA claim the court opined that “Anyone who buys a Lexmark printer may read the literal code of the Printer Engine Program directly from the printer memory, with or without the benefit of the authentication sequence[…]No security device, in other words, protects access to the Printer Engine Program[…]”. Basically, if you purchased a HD media device and you can figure how to read the coding, with or without authorization, it’s not controlling access. Moreover, if someone creates a program, it’s not a copyright infringement if it needs and uses the original program for interoperability.

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  1. #1 by Joshua on September 20, 2010 - 7:35 AM

    I wonder if those would come into play with, say, Blizzard’s “no protocol sniffing” clauses? I’ve never been a fan of those, myself. I learned how to do UDP sockets programming by reverse engineering the Doom network protocol, for example. We used to call the chaingun the bullet spammer since Doom sent a broadcast packet for every bullet fired. On a 10baseT network segment with common collision domain, two people firing chainguns could effectively grind the segment to a halt and light up the collision lights on the hub like a Christmas tree.

    And World of Warcraft’s EULA has a clause about not using a memory access debugger while the game is running. Wouldn’t the above ruling make that unenforceable? And, by the way, what’s the point of restricting memory access debuggers? The best you’ll get is system call address tables, fairly meaningless game state data, and executable text of parts of the game. If you’re really inclined to sift through boatloads of jump tables, system calls, and CPU mnemonics to see how a game works then an EULA won’t stop you. I’d say password sniffing was a concern but only your own password gets put into memory and that gets flushed after login…

    • #2 by Phillip on September 20, 2010 - 11:29 AM

      I would think that if Blizzard claimed that someone was violating the DMCA’s circumvention rules the above would be a defense.

      With memory access debugger, I think that they’re thinking more along the lines of “Cheat Engine”, “Poke”, or “ArtMoney”. These let you change certain values in the game, and they make it fairly easy to determine the addresses for certain values too.

      But, with the EULA, those are considered contracts. Generally the only way of trying to purge it from the contracts is by suing them, but chances are there’s an arbitration clause in there, and those often side with the company. I like to think of it this way, if it’s the government that’s doing it, it’s a law; if it’s a company, it’s a contract. And contracts are generally more restrictive than laws.

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