What court of public opinion? The only people paying attention seem to be a smattering of the tech journals and IP law bloggers, with only a single major media source weighing in. Call me crazy, but I think this is a major consumer rights issue, with lots of repercussions for the tech industry and innovation. Why isn't this story getting more play?
Heck, even Slashdot published the story, but not on their front page (Universal Garage Door Opener OK under DMCA).
The biggest media source to weigh in on the issue so far is the LA Times (reg. req.), which has a very brief story that will only confuse people who aren't already familiar with DMCA issues (An Open-and-Shut Copyright Case).
One of the problems with the LA Times story is that the unwary reader may think the case involved whether garage door openers were subject to copyright, and the decision was that they were not, which is incorrect:
Chamberlain had sued Skylink under, of all things, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The act was meant to restrain Internet piracy by making it illegal to break the digital locks that protect a piece of intellectual property an electronic book, say, or a CD or DVD.
As if it were a surprise that Chamberlain sued under the DMCA. This was an obvious tactic that critics of the DMCA have noted was available for years. It isn't as if Chamberlain was the only company doing this, perhaps the LA Times could have mentioned a little company called Lexmark
: The article does mention "makers of prosaic products such as ... printer ink cartridges"] The clear implication here is that the software in garage door openers is not worthy of the same protections as Hollywood's content (how appropriate for the LA Times to think this), but that is not what the court said. Although there was some dispute over the copyrightability of the code at issue, for purposes of the decision, the court assumed the software had the same copyright protections as Spider-Man 2
SecurityFocus, which is an excellent news source for tech/policy stuff, has a solid piece on the case (Appeals court slams garage door DMCA claim).
Out-Law.com has a short piece (Garage door copyright ruling upheld on appeal).
LinuxElectrons sees only positive aspects in the decision, failing to note what the decision still doesn't permit (Court Ruling Opens Door to More Competition in After-Market Parts).
Over on Freedom to Tinker, Ed Felten has some really excellent thoughts and comments on the decision (Skylink, and the Reverse Sony Rule). Highly recommended reading!:
For most of the opinion, before veering away at the last minute, the court seems to be heading toward a kind of reverse Sony rule. The original Sony rule, laid down by the Supreme Court in 1984, says that making and selling dual-use tools -- tools that have both significant infringing uses and significant non-infringing uses -- does not constitute contributory copyright infringement. (Selling tools that have only non-infringing uses is obviously lawful, and selling tools that have only infringing uses is contributory infringement.)Stefan Bechtold
, a fellow at Stanford Law School
's Center for Internet and Society
, lists three reasons he thinks the decision is important (DRM and Competition on Downstream Markets
Derek Slater hasn't written his analysis of the case yet (some lame excuses about traveling cross country and starting school, or something), but he has put together some excellent links for further background on the case (Skylink Linking).
Landmark Federal Circuit Decision in Skylink Case Creates DMCA Balancing Test
Commentaries on the Federal Circuit's Skylink Decision