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Re: LCC and blobs

On Fri, 7 Jan 2005 17:33:52 -0500, Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 07, 2005 at 02:13:05PM -0500, Luke Schierer wrote:
> > The aim/icq servers do not currently, but could at the flip of a switch
> > (and have in the past), required you to send a hash of a specified
> > segment of a specified file from the official (copyrighted) winaim
> > client. If I am understanding this thread correctly, that would be
> > roughly the same as a physical device with firmware requirement for the
> > purposes of this discussion.
> I'm undecided where to put this case, which has come up before.  The
> actual hash is certainly uncopyrightable (probably being just a 32-
> or 128-bit number); the whole thing exists purely to make competing
> implementations harder.

IANAL, but spoofing this hash appears to be both "de minimis" and fair
use under US copyright law, and perfectly legal as long as the hash
algorithm was obtained by reverse engineering and not by
misappropriation of a trade secret.   (See Sega v. Accolade 1992.
-- and for a more recent and even more encouraging case from the Sixth
Circuit, Lexmark v. Static Control 2004,

The "third-party hash server" bit is good for limiting the risk
associated with passing around copies of the winaim binary, but the
odds are reasonable that a court would rule this to be a purely
functional use of the binary (ignoring its expressive content
completely).  Ironically, this could lead to a "fair use" right to
pass the binary around freely -- although I would have expected this
to be a bit of a stretch prior to the Lexmark decision.

- Michael

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