The Register and ZD News report that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has dismissed an appeal brought by the Chamberlain Group claiming that universal garage-door opening produced by Skylink infringed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Chamberlain argued that Skylink’s openers gave consumers access to the copyrighted firmware in Chamberlain's Liftmaster line of garage door openers by bypassing the “rolling code” that was meant to prevent access to the copyright-protected code. However, the Court was unimpressed since consumers using Skylink’s openers only want to open their doors and not to commit copyright infringement.
According the judge who wrote the decision of the Court of Appeals:
"Chamberlain's proposed construction would allow copyright owners to prohibit exclusively fair uses even in the absence of any feared foul use…Copyright law itself authorizes the public to make certain uses of copyrighted materials. Consumers who purchase a product containing a copy of embedded software have the inherent legal right to use that copy of the software. What the law authorizes, Chamberlain cannot revoke."The IPKat welcomes this common sense decision. To say that copyright-type protection should be effectively able to bar consumers from access their own homes is laughable. The interest recognised here seems to be that, if you buy a piece of equipment, you should be able to get replacement parts that enable you to carry on using it when something goes wrong without IP rights getting in the way. This reminds the IPKat strongly of the stance taken by the House of Lords in the UK in British Leyland v Armstrong.
History of garage doors here
Garage doors of the fourth dimension here, here and here