1996-10-13 - Re: SPA sues C2, other ISPs and users

Header Data

From: Matthew Ghio <ghio@myriad.alias.net>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: a203a92574f1f4f6c76112a3a9d267f9b30a63dcaeb71e1c7ed98672f4c0d992
Message ID: <199610130045.UAA03900@myriad>
Reply To: <3.0b28.32.19961011141214.006e8aec@ricochet.net>
UTC Datetime: 1996-10-13 00:48:37 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 17:48:37 -0700 (PDT)

Raw message

From: Matthew Ghio <ghio@myriad.alias.net>
Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 17:48:37 -0700 (PDT)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: SPA sues C2, other ISPs and users
In-Reply-To: <3.0b28.32.19961011141214.006e8aec@ricochet.net>
Message-ID: <199610130045.UAA03900@myriad>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

gbroiles@netbox.com (Greg Broiles) wrote:

> The SPA has apparently adopted two relatively aggressive litigation
> strategies - putting ISP's in the position of disclosing otherwise
> confidential customer information or being sued themselves, and treating
> peripheral data about copyrighted works like copyrighted works themselves
> (e.g., serial numbers). Particularly interesting is that they seem to be
> claiming that a *link* to a pirate FTP site is itself infringing
> (potentially contributory infringement).

Claiming that a link to a pirate FTP site is illegal, is a fairly difficult
position to defend.  It's not illegal to say "someone is selling stolen
property on the corner of First Street downtown".  It's just a statement of
fact.  They could try to argue that there was some intent to commit a
crime... but they'd have to have some real proof of that.

Their claim that "peripheral data" is illegal is a rather novel idea, and
not supported (to my knowledge) by precedent.  I don't think anyone could
argue that a serial number or password is by itself worthy of copyright
protection, since it lacks any creative expression, so they are claiming
it is "indirect infringement".  There is an interesting case which dealt
with this issue awhile back:  A company, Central Point Software, began
marketing a product in the early 1980's called Copy II Plus.  This was a
fairly standard disk-copying program, but its key selling feature was its
"parameter list".  This parameter list was a list of specific commands and
modifications necessary to copy protected software, and in most cases, to
remove the copy protection entirely.  They sold, by subscription, quarterly
updates to this list, which grew to contain deprotection information for
about 10,000 programs.  Obviously, others in the software industry were not
happy with this, and filed suit against Central Point.  I don't remember
the details of the case - but Central Point Software won, and continued
publishing updated lists.  (Anyone here have a reference for this case?)
Interestingly, by the early 90's, few software companies were using
disk-format-based copy protection, and as such the market for Copy II Plus
(and its successors Copy II Mac and Copy II PC) dwindled.  Central Point
Software folded and (I think) was bought out by Symantec.

A few months ago I saw Sameer grumbling about people "not paying for
Apache-SSL".  Now SPA claims he's operating an ISP to promote piracy.  So
first he's a software publisher and now he's a software pirate.  Uh, yeah,
whatever.  Obviously SPA is on a PR campaign here which defies all
conventional logic.