Breadth of the DMCA? Publisher decompiling a digital format?

From: <crb4949[_at_]>
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 15:20:00 -0500

An interesting question came up recently. Someone asked about a particular scenario, and if this scenario is a violation of the DMCA (we are assuming the United States, of course.)


A publisher has a book whose rights they control, compiled with a tool into a proprietary digital format controlled by a high technology company. This digital format is encrypted but in this case uses a public key so the digital book is readable on all systems where the format's proprietary reading application, developed by the format owner, is installed.

The publisher wants to decompile the book they have in that proprietary digital format so they may recover and reuse the raw files inside.

Could the owner of the proprietary format stop the publisher from decompiling the book using a decompiler tool built for that purpose, claiming a violation of the DMCA or other law, even though the copyright to the content of the book is owned by the publisher?

Could the high technology company stop the publisher on the grounds that the publisher possesses a decompiling tool to do this? What if the publisher and the high technology company are in the U.S., but the decompiling is done by a third-party elsewhere in the world? Can the high technology company still go after the publisher on U.S. soil?

Let's assume the licensing does not specifically cover this detail.

Hopefully this scenario makes sense.




-- - Access your email from home and the web Received on Sat Jan 28 2006 - 01:20:00 GMT

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