In an opinion filed July 20, 2010 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Circuit Judge Emilio M. Garza ruled that Defendant General Electric did not infringe on a power supplier’s digital copyrights when it used protected software unlocked through a hacked security key.
This ruling is representative of a circuit split with the majority of the nation’s courts on whether bypassing digital rights management (DRM) for purposes that do not violate copyright law constitutes an infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) anti-circumvention provision.
Previously on the other side of the circuit split, courts have held that any bypass or breaking of DRM constituted an infringement under the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision, regardless of whether the bypass or breaking of DRM was used to violate intellectual property interests.
The case is MGE UPS Systems Inc., v. GE Consumer and Industrial Inc.; GE Industrial Systems Inc.; General Electric Company; Power Maintenance International Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, No. 08-10521.