DMCA says you can't fix your own tape-drive

My cow-orker Jason Schultz reports on a breaking new DMCA horripilation: a court has ordered a company to stop fixing tape-drives because in so doing, it makes unauthorized access of a copyrighted "Maintenance Code."

A district court in Boston has used the DMCA to grant a preliminary injunction against a third party service vendor who tried to fix StorageTek tape library backup systems for legitimate purchasers of the system.

How is this a DMCA violation? Well, it turns out that StorageTek allegedly uses some kind of algorithmic "key" to control access to its "Maintenance Code", the module that allows the service tech to debug the storage system. The court found that third party service techs who used the key without StorageTek's permission "circumvented" to gain access to the copyrighted code in violation of the DMCA, even though they had the explicit permission of the purchasers to fix their machines.