Garage door makers battle over DMCA

Open and shut case

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story


Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.