[volt-nuts] Keithley 2001 Multimeter Fault

Chuck Harris cfharris at erols.com
Thu Mar 4 22:40:41 UTC 2010

Hi John,

John Ackermann N8UR wrote:
> That's a pretty substantial exaggeration of what the DMCA says.  The
> anticircumvention provision applies only to "technological measures"
> used to control access to a "work protected under this title"

I know you are a lawyer, and I'm not, but I think DMCA applies in more ways
than you may imagine.  I'll give you some examples:

I was once contracted to figure out how to use non Toshiba disk drives on
Toshiba computers.  I looked in all the logical places, and with the exception
of parts of the BIOS that were reverse engineered from IBM's, the entire rest
of the BIOS was gibberish.

Toshiba had encrypted all of their additions to the bios to prevent them from
being read.  Their system decrypted the BIOS and loaded it into memory where
it was run... not hard to circumvent, but it did add a layer of trickiness
to the process.

If I did this job today, I am certain that the DMCA would consider my cracking
of the encryption routine to be circumventing a technological measure intended
to protect the work from unauthorized access.

Once upon a time, I bought a PCB milling machine.  With the machine came
original disks for the software that translated Gerber files to the CAM
files needed to mill around the circuit traces and isolate them.  Somehow,
the dongle that was used in the copy protection scheme got lost, and I figured
that I would simply circumvent it.  Only thing is, the dongle was used as an
encryption device, and substantial parts of the software on the disk were
passed through decryption routines that converted gibberish into the code
that ran in the machine.

I am certain that if I cracked that code today, I would be in violation of
the DMCA.

Another example, several, if not all of the current crop of FPGA's use a
hardware encryption routine in the chip to prevent unauthorized tools from
being able to program the chip.  The manufacturers say the encryption is
there to protect the customers IP from being stolen, and perhaps it serves
that purpose.

I believe that if I were to crack the encryption algorithm, and gain access
to the customer's code, I would be in violation of the DMCA, as breaking the
encryption would be circumventing a technological measure intended to protect
the work from unauthorized access.

What do you think?  Would these examples would be violations of the DMCA?

Ok, how does this apply?  Suppose I held some patents, and I believed that
it was likely that the codes in the above examples contained infringements
of my patents.  I would have to circumvent the same protection routines in
order to determine if the code, or logic contained my patented property.
If I did so, and I found infringements, could I be prosecuted for violating
the DMCA?  What if I did so, and didn't find infringements?

This is my point.  I believe the DMCA can protect patent infringer's from
having their infringements detected by the IP owners.

Not providing documentation on instruments further helps hide infringements.

-Chuck Harris

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