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Interfaces on Trial 2.0

Interfaces on Trial 2.0

Jonathan Band
Masanobu Katoh
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Interfaces on Trial 2.0
    Book Description:

    We live in an interoperable world. Computer hardware and software products from different manufacturers can exchange data within local networks and around the world using the Internet. The competition enabled by this compatibility between devices has led to fast-paced innovation and prices low enough to allow ordinary users to command extraordinary computing capacity. In Interfaces on Trial 2.0, Jonathan Band and Masanobu Katoh investigate an often overlooked factor in the development of today's interoperabilty: the evolution of copyright law. Because software is copyrightable, copyright law determines the rules for competition in the information technology industry. This book--a follow-up to Band and Katoh's successful 1995 book Interfaces on Trial--examines the debates surrounding the use of copyright law to prevent competition and interoperability in the global software industry in the last fifteen years. Band and Katoh are longtime advocates for interoperable devices but present a reasoned view of contentious issues related to interoperability issues in the United States, the European Union, and the Pacific Rim[. They discuss such topics as the protectability of interface specifications, the permissibility of reverse engineering (and legislative and executive endorsement of pro-interoperability case law), the interoperability exception to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the interoperability cases decided under it, the enforceability of contractural restrictions on reverse engineering;] and recent legal developments affecting the future of interoperability, including those related to open source-software and software patents.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29554-3
    Subjects: Technology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Ed Black

    In 1995, when Jonathan Band and Masanobu Katoh publishedInterfaces on Trial, the technology landscape was very different. But their vision and insights have proven to be timeless.

    At the time, a gigabyte hard drive was unheard of and the Internet was unknown to many people. Now you can carry several gigabytes around in your pocket, and the Internet is the platform upon which a significant portion of global commerce occurs every day.

    The early interoperability legal battles that Band and Katoh described so vividly inInterfaces on Trialhighlighted devices like the Apple II and video game cartridges. Today,...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 The Interoperability Debate
    (pp. 1-20)

    We live in an interoperable world. Computer hardware and software products manufactured by different vendors can exchange data within local networks and around the globe via the Internet. Competition enabled by interoperability has led to innovation and lower prices, and this has placed extraordinary computing capacity in the hands of ordinary users.

    This interoperable world represents a dramatic change from the computing environment of the 1970s. In those days, once a company purchased a computer system, the company was essentially “locked in” to that system: the system was not compatible with the products manufactured by other companies, and the conversion...

  6. 2 Copyright Cases in U.S. Courts
    (pp. 21-72)

    By the mid 1990s, U.S. courts had ruled on the two copyright issues critical to interoperability. First, following the Second Circuit’s methodology inComputer Associates Int’l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc.,¹ several courts had refused to extend copyright protection to interface specifications. Second, both the Ninth Circuit and the Federal Circuit had found the copying incidental to reverse engineering permitted by the fair-use doctrine. In the ensuing decade, courts continued to reach similar conclusions. Additionally, both the executive branch and the legislative branch had endorsed this case law. Thus, the unprotectability of interface specifications and the permissibility of software reverse engineering...

  7. 3 Interoperability under the DMCA
    (pp. 73-120)

    Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by Congress in October of 1998, implements the provisions of the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties relating to technological protection measures. Specifically, section 1201 prohibits the development, distribution, and use of technologies that circumvent other technologies that protect an author’s copyright. Developers of interoperable software explained to Congress that this prohibition could prevent reverse engineering that was necessary for achieving interoperability. If a software vendor placed on a program a software “lock” that prevented reverse engineering of the program, the circumvention of that software lock would violate section 1201....

  8. 4 Contractual Limitations on Reverse Engineering
    (pp. 121-134)

    Most software is distributed subject to a license of some sort, and many of these licenses prohibit reverse engineering for any reason. The EU Software Directive fashioned a simple rule that contractual restrictions on reverse engineering permitted under that directive were null and void. But the situation in the United States is far more complex and unsettled. There seems little doubt that a reverse-engineering restriction contained in a negotiated agreement between parties of equal bargaining strength would be enforceable. Moreover, inBowers v. Baystate Techs., Inc.¹ the Federal Circuit ruled that a shrinkwrap restriction on reverse engineering is also enforceable.²...

  9. 5 Interoperability Overseas
    (pp. 135-182)

    The Internet has convinced policy makers around the world of the importance of interoperability. In particular, Australian and Asian policy makers have concluded that their domestic firms can participate in the global market for information technology only if those firms’ products can interoperate with the products developed by the dominant U.S. firms. As policy makers in the Asia-Pacific region have studied the issue, they have learned that the domestic firms can achieve interoperability only if they can reverse engineer the dominant firms’ products.

    Because of the nature of computer programs, most forms of software reverse engineering require the making of...

  10. 6 The Road Ahead
    (pp. 183-204)

    As was noted in chapter 1, many factors have contributed to the migration from the locked-in computing environment of the 1970s to today’s interoperable world. These factors include consumer demand, business strategy, government policy, and the ideology of technologists. The evolution of copyright law over the past 30 years has also played a critical role. As it became increasingly clear to companies in the information-technology industry that copyright did not facilitate control of interface specifications, companies had less incentive to try to improve their market position by preventing interoperability. If a competitor could lawfully achieve interoperability by reverse engineering and...

  11. Statutory Appendix
    (pp. 205-228)
  12. Index
    (pp. 229-233)