The EFF is representing Tom against TI their DMCA takedown filed against Memestreams.
The crux of this letter from the EFF to TI was the same point many of us were discussing on Memestreams the very day the DMCA notice was served: The TI signing key that was cracked does not protect access to copyrighted material. This is not the same thing as using DeCSS to decrypt the contents of DVDs on a unauthorized and unlicensed devices. That would be circumventing an encryption method (CSS) used to protect copyright material (the film on the DVD). That *would* be a violation of the DMCA. Just go ask 2600 about that...
But that's not whats happening in this case.
The TI signing key allows software written by anyone to run on TI hardware that someone owns. The TI hardware checks the signature (created by signing key) of any software it tries to run. Now that the signing key has been published anyone can run new, non-TI software on TI hardware they have ownership of.This is not a copyright issue in anyway, shape, or form. The DCMA does not apply. This (among other things) is what the EFF is asserting.
Frankly, that's fairly obvious, cut and dry. Having been on the receiving end of a DMCA threat and the countless other cases where baseless DMCA claims are used to shut smart people up, I'm optimistic that the EFF will prevail.
But that's not what's interesting.
What *is* interesting are the legal issues around private keys. Is a private key a trade secret? A 3rd party, through no illegal act, who independently discovers the a trade secret can utilize or publish that secret. Only we aren't talking about the Coca-Cola formula here. Public and private keys are mathematically linked. You can derive a private key, given a public one. It just can be very very (infinite grains of sands on a beach) hard. Or not. As in the TI case. You can't patent a private key, that kind of makes it public. ;-) So what do we do? Does there need to be some new kind of IP protections beyond traditional ones like patents, trademarks, and trade secrets? Are massive efforts to compute a mathematical value legal? Is it based on what that value protects or unlocks? Is it based on the intent of the people who derive the value? Homebrew software developers vs. Blueray crackers?
While I hope this matter is resolved quickly for Tom's sake, I would like to see some of these other legal issues addressed.