March 3, 2010 | By Fred von Lohmann

Unintended Consequences: 12 Years Under the DMCA

EFF today released Unintended Consequences: 12 Years Under the DMCA. This is the sixth update to the report, which aims to catalog all the reported instances where the DMCA's ban on tampering with DRM have been abused to stymie fair use, free speech, and competition, rather than to attack "piracy."

Congress enacted the DMCA's ban on bypassing DRM at the urging of entertainment industry lobbyists who argued that DRM backed by law would quell digital copyright infringement. Of course, 12 years later, that exactly hasn't worked out. Nor is it likely to ever work out. But lots of industries have recognized that these provisions of the DMCA are good for other things—like impeding scientific research and legitimate competition. The Unintended Consequences report collects these stories, including oldies like Lexmark's effort to block toner cartridge refilling and new cases like the lawsuit against RealDVD.

Other new additions to the report include Apple's use of the DMCA to lock iPhone owners to Apple's own App Store for software, Apple's DMCA threats against Bluwiki for hosting discussions about iPod interoperability, and Texas Instruments' use of the DMCA to threaten calculator hobbyists trying to write their own operating systems.

Although in many cases the DMCA abuser backs down or is beaten in court, the abuses and resulting chilling effect on legitimate activities continues. And even though the U.S. Copyright Office is considering proposed exemptions to the DMCA, that proceeding won't prevent more abuses in the future.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Are you a developer facing legal threats based on Oracle v. Google? We want to hear from you: https://eff.org/r.m2yr

Jul 1 @ 3:38pm

UK admits it illegally spied on Amnesty International https://eff.org/r.oqml

Jul 1 @ 2:17pm

In the FISA Court, the more things change, the more they stay the same: https://eff.org/r.hmj1

Jul 1 @ 2:01pm
JavaScript license information