Piracy is ok, if you work for the government

Last week, a US Court of Appeals upheld a ruling on software piracy. The organization doing the piracy, however, happened to be a branch of the US government, and the decision highlights the significant limits to the application of copyright law to the government charged with enforcing it. Most significantly, perhaps, the court found that because the DMCA is written in a way that targets individual infringers, the government cannot be liable for claims made under the statute.

The backstory on the case involved, Blueport v. United States, borders on the absurd. It started when Sergeant Mark Davenport went to work in the group within the US Air Force that ran its manpower database. Finding the existing system inefficient, Davenport requested training in computer programming so that he could improve it; the request was denied. Showing the sort of personal initiative that only gets people into trouble, Davenport then taught himself the needed skills and went to work redesigning the system. (link)

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