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USAF Violates DMCA, Escapes Unscathed 458

Posted by kdawson
from the because-we've-got-planes-that's-why dept.
eldavojohn recommends coverage at Ars on a Byzantine case just thrown out by an appeals court. The US Air Force cracked the code that would expire a piece of software. For this they were sued under the DMCA in Blueport v. United States. The Court of Federal Claims heard it and threw it out. "The reasoning behind the decisions focuses on the US government's sovereign immunity, which the court describes thusly: 'The United States, as [a] sovereign, "is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued... and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit."' ... 'The DMCA itself contains no express waiver of sovereign immunity,' the judge wrote, 'Indeed, the substantive prohibitions of the DMCA refer to individual persons, not the Government.'"
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USAF Violates DMCA, Escapes Unscathed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:04AM (#24476175)

    Just for a while.

    • by MrNaz (730548) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:46AM (#24476929) Homepage

      This is NOT off topic.

      This points out the obviousness that the US government is no longer bound by the tenets of what was called "democracy", a concept that is fundamentally at odds with the concept of "sovereignty".

      In a so-called democracy, the executive is only authorized to carry out the instructions of the legislature, and is subject to the judiciary in doing so.

      If the courts are saying that the executive can break the laws set by the legislature, and are only subject to courts when they, the executive, consent to it, then the power being invested in the executive is that of the old notion of King as appointed by God as supreme authority over the land, whose word is Law and not subject to question.

      Given this development, things like warrantless wiretapping are not even the tip of the iceberg, they're a tiny lump of seagull shit on top of the tip of the iceberg.

      • by aywwts4 (610966) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:57AM (#24477213)
        The post before yours is a link to goatse, it is of course modded offtopic, you start your post with "This is NOT off topic." And I spend the entire time reading, confused and trying to figure out what overarching metaphor links US Sovereignty and wiretapping to goatse. ;)
        • by MrNaz (730548) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @04:01AM (#24477233) Homepage

          Well, US foreign policy is pretty much a rickrolling exercise.

          <US> Become democratic, open your markets and your economy will flourish.
          <Poor_Country> That sounds great, we'll give that a shot.
          * US companies then enter and ravage what little wealth the locals have, expatriating funds and enslaving previously subsistent worker.
          <US> Haha gotcha!
          <Poor_Country> :(

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I'm not saying your wrong, or that actions that have happened like this are justified, but do you think any country in power would be any different?

            Yes, the U.S. has issues. Can they be fixed? I don't know. I think the bigger issue is correcting human behavior with those who are granted the responsibility to rule. Those who's life desire is to rule should throw a red flag. (this includes both presidential runners)

            The complicated nature of the interdependencies between Nations around the Globe makes things

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ahabswhale (1189519)

            rofl...yeah, guess what. Europe does this too. Ever hear of the World Bank? It's the whole reason they exist...to fuck over poor countries and EVERY western country takes advantage of it. Thanks for trying to pin it all on the US though. You guys are just as dirty as we are so fuck off.

      • by kmac06 (608921) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @05:43AM (#24477587)
        The court is not saying the executive branch can break laws set by the legislature. The court is saying that the law that the legislature wrote is written in such a way that it does not apply to the executive branch. If Congress wanted to write it differently, they could have. And still could, for that matter.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @07:38AM (#24478097) Homepage

        News Flash: the US government (or any government for that matter) NEVER obeyed it's own laws. This is recorded throughout history. The Military has done crap like this for decades and will continue to do so.

        This is simply reporting that is bringing to light the Standard Operating Procedures that they use.

        • by quax (19371) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:39PM (#24481883)

          The situation is anything but that back and white.

          I suggest you brush up on the history of civic code [wikipedia.org]. The development of the Western World has been very much a transition of making ever more entities (individuals and institutions) subject to law. A typical example for such a transitional order would be the civic code enacted by Frederick the Great in Prussia [wikipedia.org]. Of course he was a bit ahead of the curve and actually did not believe in the divine rights of kings famously calling the crown "a bad hat that lets the rain in".

          With regards to the US you are almost right as the government does lavish itself with excessive immunity (which is why the court ruling appears absolutely proper). But there are exceptions [wikipedia.org]. For the UK you would be right "as lawsuits against the Sovereign in his or her personal, private capacity are still inadmissible in British law". Pretty sorry state of affairs if you ask me.

          A modern approach to law is to start with the universal declaration of human rights [un.org] and derive all civil code from there without allowing for immunity exceptions.

          It goes without saying that much of the credit for this approach goes to the American Founding fathers and Jefferson in particular. Assuming that you are American I'd wish you knew better than espousing this view. It reeks of fatalism.

           

  • What's the fuss? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lecithin (745575) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:05AM (#24476183)

    In most civilian jobs you have to sign a paper that states something like "what you do for the company is the company's property". I suspect that most agreements are a bit more stringent than that. When you are in the Armed Forces of the United States, I'd say that those rules apply, even more so.

    It appears that this guy took his employer's 'system', redesigned it and then tried to profit from it by having a vendor sell it back to his employer. That stuff would get you fired at my company. I wouldn't expect it to go over well for somebody in the armed forces either.

    I'm sorry dude. You did a great job by helping out. But... Your job is to help out. Suing the US Government over something that you produced while working as a government employee isn't going to work.

    • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:09AM (#24476201) Homepage

      I'm betting his next review board doesn't go so well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by couchslug (175151)

        If the rest of his work is fine, I doubt he'll run into any serious flack for it. He doesn't get a "review board", just a performance report, and enlisted careers are much more damage-tolerant than those of officers.

        He should have used the suggestion program, made a buck that way, and used the positive outcome to further his career. (Opinion based on 26 years enlisted service.)

        Sounds like a talented guy, but for some reason clueless outside of his field of expertise.

    • by StringBlade (557322) * on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:12AM (#24476215) Journal

      True, but the implications of "The United States, as [a] sovereign, 'is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued... and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit,'" is particularly frightening language to me.

      I'm no lawyer, but I read that as, "We're the government, we can't be sued except when we want to be sued and even then we'll define the conditions of the jurisdiction in which our lawsuit will take place as it suits us," (so to speak).

      Not exactly a government by the people for the people.

      • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:24AM (#24476275) Homepage Journal
        The sovereignty issues are a bit unnerving, but one of the things TFA also states is that he brought in beta copies for testing. He had government employees testing his software on government equipment on government time. While he was possibly due some recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty, if you did that at most any tech company, they'd have a reasonable claim to owning that software or owning an interest in it.

        And since he did it within in the military, he's lucky he's not facing a court martial for selling the software to Blueport and pulling this crap.

        I really dislike the decision, because it hinges on stuff that pisses me off. But the guy who wrote the software pisses me off too.
        • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Informative)

          by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:40AM (#24476361) Homepage Journal

          The sovereignty issues are a bit unnerving, but one of the things TFA also states is that he brought in beta copies for testing. He had government employees testing his software on government equipment on government time. While he was possibly due some recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty, if you did that at most any tech company, they'd have a reasonable claim to owning that software or owning an interest in it.

          Except that the court didn't say that the USAF owned the software, but that they were immune from the DMCA for cracking it.

          • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:16AM (#24476829)
            The court didn't make any findings because they can't. They found that they lack jurisdiction to hear the case at all. Its commentary on the DMCA's language is simply in the vein of "the government is immune and this bill didn't provide consent from the government to be sued, therefore they remain immune." The only news here is that an appeals court just agreed with that assessment.
            • by erbmjw (903229) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @05:46AM (#24477609)
              Actually it seems the court found

              In the case of copyright law, the US has given up much of its immunity, but the government retains a few noteworthy exceptions. The one most relevant to this case says that when a government employee is in a position to induce the use of the copyrighted material, "[the provision] does not provide a Government employee a right of action 'where he was in a position to order, influence, or induce use of the copyrighted work by the Government.'" Given that Davenport used his position as part of the relevant Air Force office to get his peers to use his software, the case fails this test.

              So he owns the copyright but since he induced the use of his copyrighted work in the course of his regular work related duties he forsakes his right to actionable copyright proceedings as it relates to the USAF.

              He can still sell his copyrighted program to others, the USAF does not own his code -- the USAF just never have to be concerned about any claims of violation of copyright in regards to this code because they are immune because of his actions.

              Three issues here -- copyright, immunity from copyright actions and DMCA.

              1) Copyright was and still is his.
              2) Immunity from copyright actions was decided based on above
              3) DMCA violation was decided based on judges decision that the DMCA doesn't apply to the government.

        • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:14AM (#24476541) Homepage Journal

          TFA also states is that he brought in beta copies for testing. He had government employees testing his software on government equipment on government time. While he was possibly due some recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty, if you did that at most any tech company, they'd have a reasonable claim to owning that software or owning an interest in it.

          Google must be shitting themselves.

        • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by corbettw (214229) <.corbettw. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:27AM (#24476625) Journal

          No, I'll tell you what's unnerving: that plaintiff's counsel couldn't read and cite USC Title 28 Â 1346(b)(1):

          Subject to the provisions of chapter 171 of this title, the district courts, together with the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone and the District Court of the Virgin Islands, shall have exclusive jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United States, for money damages, accruing on and after January 1, 1945, for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.

          In short, you can sue the government if an agent of the government commits a tortuous act that, if performed by a private citizen, would ordinarily be actionable in court. Maybe they sued for more than $10k and disqualified themselves from using this law, I don't know. But if a non-lawyer can find this information after about two minutes of searching, why didn't Blueport's attorneys find it?

          Not that it matters, they had tenuous claims to the copyright, anyway. They're lucky they didn't get hit with an injunction to stop selling it. But now every other content producer out there (*cough*Microsoft*cough*) is stuck with this precedent.

          Expect to see some amicus curiae filed by large software companies in the near future to get the Supreme Court to issue a writ of certiorari to rehear this case.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Free_Meson (706323)

            injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death

            Praytell what injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death occurred here?

          • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Informative)

            by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:16AM (#24477049) Homepage
            But if a non-lawyer can find this information after about two minutes of searching, why didn't Blueport's attorneys find it?

            The Federal Torts Claim Act doesn't apply here; there's a specific US statute, 28 USC 1498 that deals specifically with bringing copyright infringement cases against the government, and that was at issue here. Blueport's attorneys are quite familiar with the FTCA, as they mention it in their appeal, but only used FTCA cases as analogies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by folstaff (853243)
        All laws are not written for all entities without limitations. The American's With Disabilities Act does not apply to state governments or the federal government. There are other laws and reasons that the fed and state governments make their buildings handicap accessible, but no one can sue the fed or state to make it happen.
      • by pete6677 (681676)

        I've heard of this before, but it seems to be applied very inconsistently. There are plenty of cases where the government is successfully sued, and certainly does not seem to like it one bit. Could some lawyer please enlighten us as to why sovereign immunity of a government agency seems to only apply in some cases?

        If sovereign immunity is real, why does any government agency (such as a state university) waste tax money on liability insurance? It's completely unnecessary if they can't be sued.

        • by whoever57 (658626)

          If sovereign immunity is real, why does any government agency (such as a state university) waste tax money on liability insurance? It's completely unnecessary if they can't be sued.

          Because there are laws in various states that provide a right to sue the government over various issues -- in other words, the state has consented to being sued over those specific issues.

      • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:44AM (#24476385)

        True, but the implications of "The United States, as [a] sovereign, 'is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued... and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit,'" is particularly frightening language to me.

        I'm no lawyer, but I read that as, "We're the government, we can't be sued except when we want to be sued and even then we'll define the conditions of the jurisdiction in which our lawsuit will take place as it suits us," (so to speak).

        Not exactly a government by the people for the people.

        This isn't exactly a new development. It's been this way for hundreds of years in countries that rely on common law, including the entire history of the U.S. [wikipedia.org] The court made the legally correct (though possibly morally wrong) decision.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          True, but the implications of "The United States, as [a] sovereign, 'is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued... and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit,'" is particularly frightening language to me.

          This isn't exactly a new development. It's been this way for hundreds of years in countries that rely on common law, including the entire history of the U.S.

          It's not new, but it sure sounds scary to the ignorant/uninformed (no offense to the GP).
          This is the type of stuff they teach in civics & political science classes.
          I just find it astounding that there are people who don't understand the basic characteristics of a State.

          Note to /.'ers: If you ever have kids, do 'em a favor and force them to take a polysci class or two. I promise you it isn't useless knowledge.

      • by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:04AM (#24476779) Journal

        I agree with you that the decision is quite disturbing, even in the light of other comments that this has been the status quo for a long, long time.

        I would have found the decision rather balanced, actually, if it had been explicitly limited to the DCMA, for several reasons. First, works of the US government (or the military, anyway) are automatically in the public domain --- the government has waived its "right" to copyright. Interestingly, this means that the crack itself is in the public domain (but not the cracked software, which is a derived work). Secondly, if the US gov't is not bound by the DCMA, it is then legal for it to distribute tools for breaking DRM, which might be useful in many situations (e.g., if Microsoft is vaporized in a war, or if public libraries need them for the purposes of archiving cultural works in danger of disappearance).

      • by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:21AM (#24476845)
        I'm no lawyer, but I read that as, "We're the government, we can't be sued except when we want to be sued and even then we'll define the conditions of the jurisdiction in which our lawsuit will take place as it suits us," (so to speak).

        Not exactly a government by the people for the people.

        Actually that's exactly what it is. People are bad enough these days with civil lawsuits (which by the way have their own conditions and limitations, imagine if they could sue over any little thing and the government had to let them do it.

        I don't like roads, I'm going to sue the government to get rid of them.
        I don't like the police, I'm going to sue the government to get rid of them
        I don't like public schools, I'm going to sue the government to get rid of them.
        I think black people should be slaves, I'm going to sue the government to get rid of the 13th Amendment.

        The government is elected by the people, and for the most part works for the people. What you are hinting at would be legal anarchy at best, a tyranny of the wealthy at it's worst who could employ vast pools of lawyers to strip away every right and freedom you currently enjoy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mrmeval (662166)

      He's an idiot. He created something then offered it to his boss who let him install it. That gave them their license. By putting in a timer he was in effect installing a defect which if it impacted the performance of his unit could be construed as conduct unbecoming, dereliction of duty or deliberate sabotage. He needs to be booted for conduct unbecoming if nothing else, given a general discharge and told to walk. The Air Force needs to recover all the data this third party has to their software.

      • by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:11AM (#24476525) Homepage

        Sorry, but no, he didn't install a defect. The military knew that the expiration code was there and when it would expire - he wasn't springing a trap. And the software was not life-critical. He did nothing criminal.

        The military handled this very badly. The guy may have made limited use of military resources for testing, but the testing was done only for the use of the military, not for third parties. He developed the software on his own, outside of his job responsibilities. He wasn't a programmer and when he asked for training in programming they refused him. It's his software. If the military hadn't been complete assholes they would have paid him a bit and given him a pat on the back and the problem would never have arisen.

    • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:07AM (#24476499)

      That's bull.

      No offense, but as a former Staff Sergeant in the USAF, I can tell you that the Air Force doesn't work the way you're saying. Maybe you'll disagree with the law, but the law doesn't give the government total ownership of everything that our military personnel create on their own time.

      The Air Force encourages personnel to take up a second job if they choose to do so-- as long as they understand that the Air Force comes first.

      Part of the process of obtaining a second job involves a series of briefings on preventing conflicts of interest and improper use of government equipment. Part of the briefing is a segment explaining that works created on YOUR OWN TIME are YOUR PROPERTY. Examples are given of guys who created new tools to improve life at work-- and then sold them back to the Air Force.

      And as for the "system"-- often times, the "system" that the Air Force uses is developed in-house, by people who are PAID FOR THAT JOB by the Air Force. Under federal copyright law, government-created works aren't subject to copyright (look it up). As long as the data system wasn't classified or OTS software, Sergeant Davenport has every legal right to copy, improve, and even sell back the software that the USAF has developed-- it's public domain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        The Air Force encourages personnel to take up a second job if they choose to do so-- as long as they understand that the Air Force comes first.

        My family has been airforce for 3 generation I know that line very well. It's because the enlisted men don't get enough pay to be able to care for their family. It's disgusting that an enlisted man and his wife cant afford to raise a child without him also working a second job.

        It's also shameful that we had to live off base because we could not afford family housi

    • by kocsonya (141716) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:20AM (#24476579)

      The fact that he was nasty or not has nothing to do with the DMCA violation. If someone broke the law then he broke the law, no matter that by breaking the law he uncovered some other criminal act. You can not break and enter so that you can prove that your neighbour is running some extortion racket. The police can, if they have a proper authorisation from a judge, but you can not. If you do, you might go to jail while your neighbour might actually walk.

      Now the government clearly stated that they are above the law; they are the sovereign, they make the law and the law applies only to their royal subjects, serfs and lesser vermins also known as "the people". This system is known as democracy. It is in stark contrast with the system of tyranny, where there is a tyrant, a sovereign making the law that only applies to his royal subjects, serfs and other vermins also known as the "oppressed".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LackThereof (916566)

      From TFA:

      Davenport did his development on a personal system at home

      . It also notes that he requested training to do the work as part of his job at the Air Force, and was denied.

      In essence, they told him not to do it at work, so he did it at home, and then they lay claim to it anyway.

  • So speaketh the darkside when DMCA was written.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:17AM (#24476237)

    are immune from the restrictions and laws they help write to rule the people that put them in power.

    In fact they may do the very thing the laws were written to prevent, with impunity.

    Couldn't that be considered a definition of corruption?

    • A dim bulb brightens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CountBrass (590228)
      I believe corporately that's true. But as individuals they are subject to all the same laws.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kadehje (107385)

      I don't see what new information provides this in that regard. It's always been very difficult to win financial damages from the federal government in civil court. Even when a court finds that a person's constitutional rights have been violated, the relief typically involves (a) a cease and desist order enjoining the government from continuing the behavior called out in the lawsuit, and/or (b) at best compensatory damages, for instance when someone's property is seized, the court may order it returned in

  • by Nymz (905908) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:30AM (#24476307) Journal
    If the DMCA refers only to individuals, and not to organizations like a company or government, then shouldn't Google's YouTube be in the clear against Viacom? or the ThePirateBay in the clear from... everyone?

    Something here is off, or the DMCA just got castrated with this new precedent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ArtemaOne (1300025)
      The Pirate Bay isn't in the USA, thus the DMCA doesn't have any jurisdiction, but your YouTube example is very good.
    • by Firehed (942385)

      Well legally speaking, a corporation "is" a person (in the sense that it can own property, write checks, etc). The government, on the other hand, well... it's the government. It'll do what it damn well pleases and you'll like it.

  • We're the country. We're above the law.

    Could be me, but I learned at school that the cornerstone of a working democracy is that everyone's equal, especially when facing the law. Did that change somehow, or is the system just not working anymore?

  • Oh, good. Another judge reading what is actually in copyright law.
    Wait, does he have a license to do that?
    Does the copyright law say that a license to practice law allows him to read that text and do whatever he wants with it?
  • Ahem (Score:4, Funny)

    by confusedneutrino (732640) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:45AM (#24476391)
    Tried to fly that one under the radar, did they?

    *rimshot*
  • by enoz (1181117) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:18AM (#24476565)

    Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the largest, most powerful airforces in the world, is hacking your software. And your plan is to blackmail these people? Good luck.

  • by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:19AM (#24476567)

    According to what the law says, this situation is exactly proper. This should only serve to point out how archaic a concept sovereign immunity is, and how it needs to be removed.

  • by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:33AM (#24476661) Homepage

    Here is the actual court decision [uscourts.gov], which contains a more detailed account of what actually happened. Among other things, it makes it clear that the source code never left the guy's home.

  • as usual... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bickerdyke (670000) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @02:28AM (#24476871)
    quod licet jovi, non licet bovi
  • by WegianWarrior (649800) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @05:31AM (#24477547) Journal

    Okay, I may be biased here, being a career officer and all...

    BUT: he writes a piece of software at home, and then brings it to work to 'test'? In fact, he's running unverified, non approved software on a military computer, most likely networked to other military computers? Seriously, WTF?

    It boggles me that IT security is that lax in a military organisation - our setup won't let me run anything than the approved, verified apps delivered over the network - operational security being key. And don't even think of executing something of a removable media...

    We all know that pretty much anyone can be bought (if the offer is high enought) - what if he had been less upright and loyal and had put a trojan or two into his program?

  • by voss (52565) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @07:20AM (#24478001)

    Soverign immunity is a legal concept the US inherited from english law.

    "sovereign is exempt from suit [on the] practical ground that there can be no legal right against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends." 205 U.S. 349, 353."

    The DMCA gives legal rights to copyright holders, however those rights cannot be used to sue government agencies since the government did not give permission. Common law copyright was abolished in the US in 1790, copyright only exists in the US to the extent congress allows it.

     

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:58AM (#24478585) Journal

    In this case, the USAF owned the software. The people who bought it were wrong.

    If you read the enlistment contract, it clearly spells out that you are on duty pretty much all the time - as in 24/7. That's why the military doesn't pay overtime and why you get 30 days vacation - because you don't have to get any other time off. Even at home, you're still on duty.

    I know, I did it for 21 years. Stuff you develop for the military while in uniform belongs to the military.

    So it really wasn't a DMCA issue at all. (Not that I don't think the DMCA is a crock, but it doesn't even apply in this case.)

  • To sum: (Score:3, Funny)

    by ErikZ (55491) * on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:58AM (#24478589)

    Guy hates the software he uses at work.
    Guy learns to program.
    Guy hands out free copies of superior program at work and everyone loves it.
    Program cripples itself after trial period.
    Guy: A ha! Now you have to pay me money to get it working again!
    USAF: A ha! We're the Government you moron.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @11:27AM (#24480487) Homepage

    It's a reasonable, but narrow, decision. The decision turns on a section of the Copyright Act that says a government employee "shall have a right of action against the Government under this subsection except where he was in a position to order, influence, or induce use of the copyrighted work by the Government." That's what happened here. Davenport used his job in the USAF to introduce his manpower-management software into USAF use. He wasn't an outside supplier.

    The DMCA issue is one of jurisdiction. This case was filed with the Court of Federal Claims, which handles copyright claims against the Government. But the DMCA specifies that DMCA anti-circumvention claims must be brought in federal district courts. It's a narrow ruling; it's not clear what would happen if a DMCA case was brought in a district court. Especially if it was brought against the company that did the cracking, SAIC.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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