Thursday, September 02, 2004
Wielding the DMCA: It comes as no surprise that when Congress passes a law as far-reaching as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act lawyers will find innovative uses for the tools provided.
Some enterprising lawyers decided to use the act, which was intended to prevent people from copying DVDs, copy-protected CDs or MP3 files, to prevent the sale of aftermarket garage door openers.
Thankfully, the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals was having none of it.
The Chamberlain Group, a prominent manufacturer of residential and commercial garage door openers based in Elmhurst, Ill., had sued the Skylink Group, a competitor that sold a universal opener that worked with Chamberlain's products. Chamberlain argued that the Skylink product's ability to tap into its doors' digital security mechanisms violated the DMCA.
The appeals court took a dim view of that argument, ruling that "Chamberlain cannot prevail" on its DMCA claims. Because Skylink owners merely wanted to open their garage doors, not commit copyright infringement, the judges said the company's products would remain legal.
If this suit had succeeded, then I could've imagined the field day various companies would have had over universal remote controls.