Monday, January 14, 2008

Buy our product or we'll sue you

Two US companies have issues cease and desist letters to Microsoft, Apple, Real Networks and Adobe, warning them to stop not using their Digital Restrictions software.

That's right. Buy our product or we'll sue.

The manufacturers of the DRM software, Media Rights Technologies (MRT) and, claim that their product makes water not wet "effectively controls access to copyrighted material", and therefore failing to use their snake-oil product is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

[The DMCA] makes illegal and prohibits the manufacture of any product or technology that is designed for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure which effectively controls access to a copyrighted work or which protects the rights of copyright owners. Under the DMCA, mere avoidance of an effective copyright protection solution is a violation of the act.

How's that again? If you fail to use DRM, that's the same as circumventing the DRM software that you would have used if you had used any.

(Or, to put it another way, if you give a sandwich to your friend without charging him money, you're guilty of being an accessory to theft, because your friend effectively stole from you the money he would have given you if you had asked for any, and therefore you assisted him in his crime. And if your brain hurts about now, you're not alone.)

That's a rather... unusual... interpretation of the DMCA. It's almost certainly a publicity stunt, and unlikely to go any further, but it isn't that far removed from media companies' efforts to outlaw open formats and mandate ineffective and restrictive technologies.

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