October 29, 2009 | By Jennifer Granick

Hey, Texas Instruments -- Stop Digging Holes

Texas Instruments (TI) ultimately failed to stand behind their misguided claim that calculator hobbyists violated copyright law by having public, online discussions about techniques to get more functionality from TI calculators. Yet the company continues to dig itself into new holes by issuing more improper take-down letters.

Several weeks ago, TI sent a barrage of letters claiming that the calculator enthusiasts' discussions about the discovery of calculator operating system signing keys -- and the keys themselves -- violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). TI demanded that the posts be taken down. EFF sent a letter to TI on behalf of three such bloggers, explaining why the company's legal claim was wrong, and stated that the men would restore their posts absent legitimate objection from the company. TI ignored both the letter and the deadline, and so the posts are now back online. Mr. Smith's post is here, Mr. Wilson's here, and Mr. Cross's here. You can find EFF's letter to TI here.

While it's no surprise that TI gave up when it found itself in the legal wrong, it is scandalous that the company continues to send its improper demands to other bloggers and hosting companies. In fact, TI has sent an identical take-down demand to Mr. Smith's university complaining about the same OS keys having been posted on our client's student webpage, and demanding that the school take the materials down from that URL. Today, Mr. Smith filed a DMCA Section 512 counternotice to continue the fight. Hopefully other calculator hobbyists who have received TI's baseless demands will consider standing up against the erroneous claim that reverse-engineered OS signing keys are illegal numbers that can not be published, discussed or linked to.


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