A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Digital Copyright, the Dmca and a Dose of Common Sense
64 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2005
The debate concerning United States anticircumvention law spurred by the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA] in 1988 reached a high peak with the recent decisions of the Federal and the Sixth Circuits in Chamberlain and Lexmark. These decisions rejected DMCA claims where the anti-trafficking prohibition was invoked in disputes between manufacturers of consumer electronic products competing in the aftermarket for interoperable devices. Both decisions introduce interpretive theories that shed new light on the way the DMCA has been understood thus far and embody implications that call for fundamental changes in the US anticircumvention paradigm. This Article describes the rulings and attempts to extract their normative novelties, especially regarding the relationship between access control regulation and traditional copyright law and limitations. Further, it offers a critical analysis of these decisions and reflects on future application of the anticircumvention scheme in the digital copyright environment. It aims at stirring the discussion surrounding the anticircumvention legislation, in particular in light of the recent Supreme Court's refusal to review the Chamberlain ruling.
Keywords: Digital Millennium Copyright Act , Chamberlain, Lexmark, anticircumvention, Copyright, access right, access control
JEL Classification: K11
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