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Re: [dvd-discuss] DMCA, 'creative web surfing', and linking.
- To: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Subject: Re: [dvd-discuss] DMCA, 'creative web surfing', and linking.
- From: Michael.A.Rolenz(at)aero.org
- Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 09:22:07 -0800
- Reply-To: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Sender: owner-dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
I've got problems with the whole notion that robots are bad things that
sites should be able to stop others from using. It really comes down to a
DoS aspect. Unlike a person, a robot can consume bandwidth and accesses
faster than a human can and that affects the quality and access to a
website. If a website wants to 'detect" a robot and terminate the
connection (and even refuse other connections from that IP address for a
short period) that's their right but they also run the risk of making
their customer's very angry. But why should the law even get involved?
There are solutions that don't involve lengthy lawsuits or jail time for
offenders. But also they can't tell if I'm using a robot or just quickly
opening windows or saving links to disk. Is the latter allowed but the
former isn't. How can they tell? They can't really even make a case by a
proponderance of the evidence . Ergo, that provides a legal defense for
any anti-circumvention laws or procedures.
You mention that the documents are copyright of the owners and that raises
an interesting point. The purpose of putting something on the internet is
to provide wide distribution and access to it. By not restricting access,
they really are estopped from claims of infringment as copies of their
works get linked and passed around and even found in places that they may
not want them to be. The whole notion that someone can put something out
on a PUBLIC forum and still claim private rights is ridiculous.
Scott A Crosby <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent by: email@example.com
10/30/01 05:21 AM
Please respond to dvd-discuss
Subject: [dvd-discuss] DMCA, 'creative web surfing', and linking.
Hello.. Over the last week, I've been doing some robot-assisted web
surfing and web downloading.
Thinking it over, I thought that two of my actions could be DMCA
anticircumvention violations, and that *any* web page that links to any
other web page could be circumventing an access protection technology.
Most of the documents on the web you can assume are copyright by the
creator, so that part is satisfied.
Note that nowhere did I try to guess any passwords, unless you count
knowing that after '01' comes '02'. :)
Now, I was being creative. If I saw a URL like:
that had something I wanted, I would try to see if
existed and had anything interesting.
If it did, I'd decide whether or not to grab it, and continue.
So, my first question: Was this 'circumventing a technological measure
that effectively controls access to a work'?
It might be; they may not have intended me to know that '02' comes after
Now, there was another action I did. some websites, although they were
free to the public and I did not guess URL's like above, they tried to
detect robots and block their access for 5 minutes. (By using a magic URL
and seeing if the person downloads it.)
I could have clicked each image on the website and saved it manually.
Instead, I configured my robot to *not* access to that file and avoid the
So here, one could say that they had a technology measure intended to
effectively control certain types [robotic] of access to a work. But not
intended to actually restrict other types of access to the work.
So, is this a violation of the anticircumvention provisions; me telling my
robot to *not* download a particular file?
On a similar vein and more hypothetical.
Many people use the secrecy of a URL as a security mechanism, in that as
long as nobody can guess the URL, whatever private website they have is
But, as soon as any link into that 'protected' area gets made, say, some
legitimate user of that web space makes a link to it on their home page.
Eventually google will notice that link, and find itself indexing that
'protected area' and offering it as search results.
In this case, I would hope the law wouldn't fault google. It was just
following links like it always does.
But, the law could fault the person who unwittingly linked in.
For example, say you have a discussion site thats supposed to be private.
One of the users unwittingly posts a link to it on their home page, and
another user dislikes the fact that google is now reporting results.
This could mean that there is liability in any web page author linking to
*any* other web page that they do not control. It also seems related to
the so-called 'deep linking' court cases of a few years ago.
So, whats the verdict?