Garage door makers battle over DMCA

Open and shut case

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It says something when a Google search on 'DMCA' (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) produces the Anti-DMCA site at the top of the list.

"The DMCA is being used to silence researchers, computer scientists and critics. Corporations are using it against the public," the site states, before going into some detail about the infamous clause that it is a crime to "circumvent" copyright protection systems.

Since the law was passed by the US Congress in 1998, concerns been raised every year that it is being widely abused by companies to restrict competition, control markets and keep prices high. Many since 1998 have asked: "Just how far can this go?"

Well, now we know. The DMCA has finally found a buffer.

And it came in a court case at the end of August: Chamberlain Group vs Skylink Technologies. Never heard of them, you say? How could you not know about some of the finest purveyors of automatic garage-door openers?

Yes, Chamberlain Group launched a case against its rival Skylink under the DMCA because the company was making compatible garage door openers. So, you buy your garage door opening system from Chamberlain and lose the remote control. Fortunately, a control from Skylink will also open the door. Great, but in order to offer this service, says Chamberlain, Skylink circumvented access controls to a computer program in Chamberlain's opener.

Skylink claimed conversely that since the person that uses the control actualy owns the garage and the door opener, they have a lawful right to access the computer program however they want.

Yes, this is how bad things have got.

But there is a sort of silver lining to this legal cloud in the form of District Court judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. If a judge were to say "bollocks", that is what she would have come out with. Instead we have to settle with: "The homeowner has a legitimate expectation that he or she will be able to access the garage even if his transmitter is misplaced or malfunctions."

Can you imagine a world where every electronic item you possess would legally have to be accessed using a piece of equipment from a particular manufacturer? Well, you nearly had to.

There is some sanity in the world then. ®

Related Link

The case archive

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
prev story


A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.