The DMCA is the center of a frenzy of activity: Yale’s Lawmeme, in conjunction with Blogcritics is presenting an exemption request from the DVD copy prohibition to the librarian of Congress today – more on that later.
- A jury on Tuesday acquitted a Russian software company of criminal copyright charges related to selling a program that can crack antipiracy protections on electronic books.
The case against ElcomSoft is considered a crucial test of the criminal provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial law designed to extend copyright protections into the digital age.
The company faced four charges related to directly designing and marketing software that could be used to crack eBook copyright protections, plus an additional charge related to conspiring to do so. The jury acquitted the company of all charges.
….ElcomSoft attorney Joseph Burton said that Tuesday’s win was important as one of the first setbacks for publishers seeking to assert the law against programmers. But he cautioned that the acquittal did not mean software developers should consider themselves immune from future criminal prosecutions under the law.
“This is sort of the first dent in the DMCA,” Burton said. “Up until now, the large publishers have sort of had their way…(but) I think developers still need to be careful.”
….Because both the defense and prosecution agreed that ElcomSoft sold software designed to crack copyright protections, the case essentially turned on ElcomSoft’s state of mind during the period it was offering the software.
After much wrangling among attorneys over the definition of the word “willful,” the judge told jurors that in order to find the company guilty, they must agree that company representatives knew their actions were illegal and intended to violate the law. Merely offering a product that could violate copyrights was not enough to warrant a conviction, the jury instructions said. [CNET]
May the “dents” to the DMCA be many and various until the body has to be replaced.