|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Fair Use and Free Software
Fair use was dealt a harsh blow today in a Federal Court decision which
held that programmers are not allowed to create free software designed
to work with commercial products. At issue in the case was whether three
software programmers who created the BnetD game server -- which
interoperates with Blizzard video games online -- were in violation of
the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Blizzard Games' end user
license agreement (EULA).
BnetD is an open source program that lets gamers play popular Blizzard
titles like Warcraft with other gamers on servers that don't belong to
Blizzard's Battle.net service. Blizzard argued that the programmers who
wrote BnetD violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions and that
the programmers also violated several parts of Blizzard's EULA,
including a section on reverse-engineering.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), co-counsel for the defendants,
argued that programming and distributing BnetD was fair use. The
programmers reverse-engineered Battle.net purely to make their free
product work with it, not to violate copyright.
EFF staff attorney Jason Schultz said, "Consumers have a right to choose
where and when they want to use the products they buy. This ruling gives
Blizzard the ability to force you to use their servers whether you want
to or not. Copyright law was meant to promote competition and creative
alternatives, not suppress them."
EFF will appeal the case, challenging the court's ruling that creating
alternative platforms for legitimately purchased content can be
NYLXS: New Yorker Free Software Users Scene
Fair Use -
because it's either fair use or useless....
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