A preliminary injunction was issued recently in StorageTek v. Custom Hardware. StorageTek makes big tape backup systems, Jason Schultz reports. They make a lot of money on maintenance contracts for their big tape backup systems. To perform maintenance on these systems, you have to enter a special security code, after which the machine goes into maintenance mode.
Custom Hardware wrote a program that just tried every possible security code until it found the right one. They were thus able to perform maintenance on StorageTek hardware — and since they aren’t a damnable monopolist, they charged a competitive price for it. StorageTek got mad and sued under the DMCA, alleging that the simple security code arrangement was a technological measure that controlled access to a copyrighted work — namely, the maintenance code. In a situation precisely like the one Section 117 of the Copyright Act was designed to legalize, StorageTek now alleges that the copy made in RAM of the maintenance program is an infringement.
And the judge bought it, issuing a prelimiary injunction after a finding that StorageTek is likely to succeed on the merits. I hope this won’t stand up on appeal.
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