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 Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > Anticircumvention (DMCA) > Notices > No New Tricks for Robot Dog (NoticeID 24, http://chillingeffects.org/N/24) Printer-friendly version

No New Tricks for Robot Dog

October 24, 2001

 

Sender Information:
SONY
Sent by: [Private]
Sony Electronics Inc. Entertainment Robot America
6701 Center Drive
Los Angeles, Californi, 90045

Recipient Information:
Registrant
www.aibopet.com


Sent via:
Re: www.aibopet.com

Dear [name]:

We refer to the letter sent by our predecessor, Takeshi Yazawa, to you dated April 19, 2001 regarding your website "www.aibopet.com" and also to your email response dated April 20, 2001.

Entertainment Robot America, a division of Sony Electronics Inc., ("Sony") continues to be concerned about the contents of your site. The concerns enumerated in Mr. Yazawa's letter were as follows: (i) the contents of your site contain Sony copyrighted software which you are copying and distributing in violation of Sony's rights; (ii) your site provides the means to
circumvent the copy protection protocol of Sony's AIBO(tm) Memory Stick(tm) to allow access to Sony AIBO-ware software; and (iii) you site promotes the distribution of your original software such as "Disco AIBO", "AIBO Scope", "Bender AIBO", etc. which appear to have been created by copying and decrypting Sony's software.

While your timely email response to Mr. Yazawa's letter was appreciated, it did not alleviate Sony's concerns nor did it adequately justify the contents of your site. You mentioned that you merely provide backup copies of AIBO-ware for the convenience of users. Your reasoning for providing this code does not matter. By copying and distributing this code you are violating Sony's copyrights and are in breach of the End User License Agreement governing the use of the software. The exclusive rights enjoyed by a copyright holder are absolute rights, and the fact that the wrongfully acquired AIBO-ware can only be utilized by devices utilizing rightfully acquired AIBO-ware is of no consequence. In other words, the fact that an AIBO Life Memory Stick (rightfully acquired through Sony) is needed to run AiboLife Plus (wrongfully acquired through your website) does not create a defense to your infringement of Sony's copyrights.

Similarly, your response regarding the copy protection protocol does not justify your actions. Your discontinuation of "Format AIBO" is certainly a step in the right direction. However, your site still contains information providing the means to circumvent AIBO-ware's copy protection protocol constituting a violation of the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Mellennium Copyright Act.

As previously mentioned by Mr. Yazawa, Sony appreciates your enthusiasm for AIBO. Furthur, Sony is exciting about the proliferation of value added software for AIBO owners, but only when such software does not infringe Sony's rights. Sony would like to see your site continue its interest in AIBO; however in order to enforce Sony's intellectual property rights, we are requesting the removal of the following files from your site.

http://www.aibohack.com/210/RCodePlus15.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/RCodePlus_F.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/RCodePlus_J.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/rcode/MasterStudioPlus14.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/AiboLifePlus_11.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/AiboLifePlus_13.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/111/ScopeStik1.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/111/bender1.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/disco3_11x.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/disco3_210.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/ObeyCat15.zip
http://www.aibohack.com/210/copyprot.htm
http://www.aibohack.com/210/files.htm
http://www.aibohack.com/310/tonecmd.htm (and all MIDI files linked to from that page)


Very truly yours,

{signature}

[Attorney]
Vice President
Entertainment Robot America
Sony Electronics Inc.

 
FAQ: Questions and Answers

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Question: What kinds of things are copyrightable?

Answer: In order for material to be copyrightable, it must be original and must be in a fixed medium.

Only material that originated with the author can support a copyright. Items from the public domain which appear in a work, as well as work borrowed from others, cannot be the subject of an infringement claim. Also, certain stock material might not be copyrightable, such as footage that indicates a location like the standard shots of San Francisco in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Also exempted are stock characters like the noisy punk rocker who gets the Vulcan death grip in Star Trek IV.

The requirement that works be in a fixed medium leaves out certain forms of expression, most notably choreography and oral performances such as speeches. For instance, if I perform a Klingon death wail in a local park, my performance is not copyrightable. However, if I film the performance, then the film is copyrightable.

Single words and short phrases are generally not protected by copyright, even when the name has been "coined" or newly-created by the mark owner. Logos that include original design elements can be protected under copyright or under trademark. Otherwise, words, phrases and titles may be protected only by trademark, however.


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Question: What "copying" of computer programs is permitted under copyright law?

Answer: Copyright law protects any work, including computer software, that is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" and which contains a "modicum of originality." While making a copy of an orginal work generally constitutes copyright infringement, the very nature of computer software requires the making of a copy of original elements every time a program runs. In order to solve this problem, Congress included specific exemptions within copyright law outlining the permitted uses of a computer program.

Section 117 of the Copyright Act provides that:

[I]t is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:


    1. that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it used in no other manner, or


    2. that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.



[back to notice text]


Question: What rights are protected by copyright law?

Answer: The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:

(1) the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
(2) the right to create derivative works,
(3) the right to distribution,
(4) the right to performance,
(5) the right to display, and
(6) the digital transmission performance right.

The law of copyright protects the first two rights in both private and public contexts, whereas an author can only restrict the last four rights in the public sphere. Claims of infringement must show that the defendant exercised one of these rights. For example, if I create unauthorized videotape copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and distribute them to strangers on the street, then I have infringed both the copyright holder's rights of reproduction and distribution. If I merely re-enact The Wrath of Khan for my family in my home, then I have not infringed on the copyright. Names, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright.

Trademark law, in contrast, is designed to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of goods (as well as to protect the trademark owner's market). To this end, the law gives the owner of a registered trademark the right to use the mark in commerce without confusion. If someone introduces a trademark into the market that is likely to cause confusion, then the newer mark infringes on the older one. The laws of trademark infringement and dilution protect against this likelihood of confusion. Trademark protects names, images and short phrases.

Infringement protects against confusion about the origin of goods. The plaintiff in an infringement suit must show that defendant's use of the mark is likely to cause such a confusion. For instance, if I were an unscrupulous manufacturer, I might attempt to capitalize on the fame of Star Trek by creating a line of 'Spock Activewear.' If consumers could reasonably believe that my activewear was produced or endorsed by the owners of the Spock trademark, then I would be liable for infringement.

The law of trademark dilution protects against confusion concerning the character of a registered trademark. Suppose I created a semi-automatic assault rifle and marketed it as 'The Lt. Uhura 5000.' Even if consumers could not reasonably believe that the Star Trek trademark holders produced this firearm, the trademark holders could claim that my use of their mark harmed the family-oriented character of their mark. I would be liable for dilution.


[back to notice text]


Question: What does circumvention mean?

Answer: Circumvention, according to Section 1201(a)(3)(A), means "to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner." While the full scope of activities and practices that would fall under this definition has not yet been examined by the courts, any act of undoing a "lock" or "block" in a digital system may well be considered circumvention.


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Question: What is a circumvention tool?

Answer: The prohibited tools under the DMCA are the programs which are primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumvention of an access [1201(2)(a)] or copy control [1201(b)(1)(A)] mechanism. These programs can come in various forms including products, services, devices, or components. The DMCA includes in its definition of circumvention tools that these devices have limited commercially significant purposes other than circumvention or are marketed to be used for circumvention [1201(2)(B-C)], 1201(b)(1)(B-C)].

Congress intended the circumvention device bans to be analogous to laws that specifically prohibit the manufacture or distribution of descrambler boxes that allow access to cable television and satellite services without payment. However, the broad definition of circumvention tools in the DMCA creates numerous situations in which non-infringing uses of copyrighted works are prohibited as well merely because the technology necessary to engage in those legitimate uses is illegal under the circumvention device ban.


[back to notice text]


Question: What is a circumvention tool?

Answer: The prohibited tools under the DMCA are the programs which are primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumvention of an access [1201(2)(a)] or copy control [1201(b)(1)(A)] mechanism. These programs can come in various forms including products, services, devices, or components. The DMCA includes in its definition of circumvention tools that these devices have limited commercially significant purposes other than circumvention or are marketed to be used for circumvention [1201(2)(B-C)], 1201(b)(1)(B-C)].

Congress intended the circumvention device bans to be analogous to laws that specifically prohibit the manufacture or distribution of descrambler boxes that allow access to cable television and satellite services without payment. However, the broad definition of circumvention tools in the DMCA creates numerous situations in which non-infringing uses of copyrighted works are prohibited as well merely because the technology necessary to engage in those legitimate uses is illegal under the circumvention device ban.


[back to notice text]


Question: Is there really a difference between access controls and copy controls?

Answer: While there is a difference in the types of activities controlled by these technological protection measures, some copyright owners try to merge access and use controls in the implementation of these systems. For example, in trying to implement a "pay-per-use" business model, some copyright owners use a single persistent control system that charge separately for the different uses of a work even after paying to access a work.


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Question: What does it mean to distribute circumvention tools?

Answer: Section 1201(a)(2) defines distribution as the "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic" of circumvention tools. This definition can be interpreted extremely broadly as evident in the court's analysis in the DVD encryption Universal v. Corley case. In its decision, the court considered not only making the source code of a program for free a type of distribution, but also found that merely linking to a web site containing illegal tools can constitute "trafficking."


[back to notice text]


Question: Aren't I allowed to make a backup copy of my software?

Answer: Yes, but only for specifically authorized archival purposes, as specified in 17 U.S.C. sec. 117(2). This does not authorize sharing or selling of backup copies. The rule allows transfer to another person only with the explicit authorization of the copyright owner and only if he original copy is transferred. Backups for individual use and those considered "an essential step" in using the software with an individual's computer are also authorized.


[back to notice text]


Question: Are licensing provisions prohibiting reverse engineering enforceable?

Answer: While the validity of licensing prohibitions of reverse engineering has not yet been decided by courts, the conflict between state laws that would enforce these provisions and federal intellectual property law has been addressed. When considering cases where breach of contract or trade secret misappropriation is claimed (both state law claims), courts must first determine whether or not intellectual property law preempts those contracts enforced by the individual state. Preemption occurs when courts determine that federal intellectual property law must be considered in order to address the issues involved in the particular provisions.

Section 301 of the Copyright Act provides that a state law claim is preempted if:

  1. (1) the work to be protected comes within the subject matter of copyright; and
  2. (2) the state-created right forming the basis of the state law claim is equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright."

In order for the claim to be preempted it must first pass this equivalency test, which determines whether the state-created rights in upholding the contract are merely alternative articulations of the exclusive rights of copyright law. If the court determines that the contract provisions contain an "extra element" that require analysis of the contract to be preempted by copyright law, the courts generally proceed to an analysis of the possible infringement or exemption under fair use of the activities of the reverse engineer.


[back to notice text]


Question: What rights are protected by copyright law?

Answer: The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:

(1) the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
(2) the right to create derivative works,
(3) the right to distribution,
(4) the right to performance,
(5) the right to display, and
(6) the digital transmission performance right.

The law of copyright protects the first two rights in both private and public contexts, whereas an author can only restrict the last four rights in the public sphere. Claims of infringement must show that the defendant exercised one of these rights. For example, if I create unauthorized videotape copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and distribute them to strangers on the street, then I have infringed both the copyright holder's rights of reproduction and distribution. If I merely re-enact The Wrath of Khan for my family in my home, then I have not infringed on the copyright. Names, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright.

Trademark law, in contrast, is designed to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of goods (as well as to protect the trademark owner's market). To this end, the law gives the owner of a registered trademark the right to use the mark in commerce without confusion. If someone introduces a trademark into the market that is likely to cause confusion, then the newer mark infringes on the older one. The laws of trademark infringement and dilution protect against this likelihood of confusion. Trademark protects names, images and short phrases.

Infringement protects against confusion about the origin of goods. The plaintiff in an infringement suit must show that defendant's use of the mark is likely to cause such a confusion. For instance, if I were an unscrupulous manufacturer, I might attempt to capitalize on the fame of Star Trek by creating a line of 'Spock Activewear.' If consumers could reasonably believe that my activewear was produced or endorsed by the owners of the Spock trademark, then I would be liable for infringement.

The law of trademark dilution protects against confusion concerning the character of a registered trademark. Suppose I created a semi-automatic assault rifle and marketed it as 'The Lt. Uhura 5000.' Even if consumers could not reasonably believe that the Star Trek trademark holders produced this firearm, the trademark holders could claim that my use of their mark harmed the family-oriented character of their mark. I would be liable for dilution.


[back to notice text]


Question: Can a technological protection measure be reverse engineered?

Answer: Section 1201(f) allows software developers to circumvent technological protection measures of a computer program that was lawfully obtained in order to identify the elements necessary to achieve the interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs. A software developer may reverse engineer the program only if:

  • the elements necessary to achieve interoperability are not readily available and
  • reverse engineering is otherwise permitted under the copyright law.


Software engineers are permitted to develop and employ circumvention devices for the purpose of achieving interoperability. [1201(f)(2)] Reverse engineers are exempt from the circumvention device ban only for the purpose of achieving interoperability, and not for gaining access to protected works for infringing purposes. [1201(f)(2)]


[back to notice text]


Question: What are the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions?

Answer: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the latest amendment to copyright law, which introduced a new category of copyright violations that prohibit the "circumvention" of technical locks and controls on the use of digital content and products. These anti-circumvention provisions put the force of law behind any technological systems used by copyright owners to control access to and copying of their digital works.

The DMCA contains four main provisions:

  1. a prohibition on circumventing access controls [1201(a)(1)(A)];
  2. an access control circumvention device ban (sometimes called the "trafficking" ban) [1201(a)(2)];
  3. a copyright protection circumvention device ban [1201(b)]; and,
  4. a prohibition on the removal of copyright management information (CMI) [1202(b)].

The first provision prohibits the act of circumventing technological protection systems, the second and third ban technological devices that facilitate the circumvention of access control or copy controls, and the fourth prohibits individuals from removing information about access and use devices and rules. The first three provisions are also distinguishable in that the first two provisions focus on technological protection systems that provide access control to the copyright owner, while the third provision prohibits circumvention of technological protections against unauthorized duplication and other potentially copyright infringing activities.


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Question: How is the development of interoperable products affected by the DMCA?

Answer: The anti-circumvention provisions may hinder innovation in information technology by limiting the ability of potential competitors to reverse engineer the technological protection system behind which the original manufacturer hides their product. Reverse engineering is a traditional method used by industry to understand how systems work and create interoperable products. While the DMCA has an exception that permits reverse engineering to create interoperable products, as discussed below, it may only permit reverse engineering for interoperability between programs, but not for the purpose of making a program available in other platforms. . A strict interpretation of the DMCA may prohibit reverse engineering, regardless of whether or not copyright infringement occurs in the process.


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