[Politech] Prescient humor: Kuro5hin on DMCA "shift key" lawsuit [ip][fs]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Thu Oct 09 2003 - 23:27:43 PDT

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    Keyboard Manufacturers Named in DMCA Suit (Politics)
    By wji
    Thu Oct 9th, 2003 at 05:33:55 AM EST
    German-based media giant Bertelsmann Group has launched a 400 million 
    dollar lawsuit against major hardware manufacturers, alleging they traffic 
    in banned circumvention devices that can be used to illegally copy their 
    music CDs. It says that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act entitles it to 
    protection from devices that can be used to circumvent its technological 
    protections against piracy. Specifically, it demands compensation for the 
    inclusion of "Shift" buttons on standard computer keyboards.
    Papers filed today in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, CA, allege 
    that nine hardware manufacturers based in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the US 
    violated section 1201(c) of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act or DMCA by 
    manufacturing and selling a variety of input devices containing the device, 
    which BMG describes an illegal lock-pick specifically designed for its 
    copyrighted works.
    The lawsuit came after the revelation Wednesday that BMG's anti-ripping 
    software for music CDs can be circumvented by depressing the Shift key 
    while inserting the disc. An industry spokesman strenuously denied that 
    their products were intended for such use, but BMG says that's not 
    relevant. "The [DMCA] bans the traffic in any technology with no 
    significant purpose other than circumvention," said BMG Public Affairs 
    Director Martin Helmsholtz. When a reporter asked if writing capital 
    letters was not a significant purpose, Hemsholtz replied 'WHAT DO YOU THINK 
    Legal insiders say BMG's case may be stronger than one might think. "The 
    Universal v. Reimerdes decision is pretty clear," said Daniel Rueben of 
    Harvard law school, referring to the first significant DMCA lawsuit. "You 
    can cross the line just by explaining how something works, or telling 
    someone where to find out how something works. I'm surprised that IBM 
    wasn't named for its keyboard input standard, which includes the shift 
    The suit is supported by the Recording Industry Association of America, 
    which includes all major music labels. RIAA president Jack Valenti slammed 
    keyboard companies for what he called "the next thing to armed robbery", 
    adding that "They even put two of these keys on each model, and make them 
    two or three times as large so you can't miss it. That's not incitement to 
    A preliminary hearing is scheduled for the 12th of December.
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