Garage Doors and the DMCA

Law and IT
37 minutes, 12.8mb, recorded 2004-09-07

Ernest Miller, Ed Felten, Mike Madison and Wendy Seltzer

Chamberlain v. Skylink

On August 31st, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals issued what was the second appellate ruling dealing with the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The court determined that the universal garage door opener remotes made by Skylink Technologies did not violate the DMCA by illicitly accessing the software in the Chamberlain Group's garage door openers.

Basically, the court said it was okay to sell garage door remotes that worked with any brand of garage door. It may sound absurd, but the case is a landmark decision regarding technological innovation and interoperability.

Ed Felten explains, from a technologist's and researcher's point of view, why this case is important and discusses its possible impact on exemptions from the DMCA. Mike Madison analyzes what the Federal Circuit was trying to do and why they have a unique perspective. Wendy Seltzer explains the key ruling in the case and looks at how much room it provides for future decisions and innovations.

Learn much more about the decision, including some of the questions the case didn't answer and how it relates to the DeCSS case and what this case means for pending legislation such as the Digital Millennium Consumer Rights Act and the INDUCE Act.

The panel includes:
Ed Felten, professor of computer science at Princeton University
Michael Madison, law professor at the University of Pittsburg
Wendy Seltzer, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

This program is one of a series, The Importance of...Law and IT, hosted by Ernest Miller.

This free podcast is from our The Law and IT with Ernest Miller series.