HomeFocus AreasCourt CasesBaystate Technologies v. Howard Bowers (2003)

Baystate Technologies v. Howard Bowers (2003)

On June 16, 2003, the US Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari without opinion in the case ofBaystate Technologies Inc. v. Bowers. The decision, a disappointment to the library community, will let stand the January 29, 2003, US Court of Appeals decision that "the Copyright Act does not preempt state contract law that allows parties to impose a ban on reverse engineering."

In a brief submitted to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) after the January decision, Robert Kann, attorney for the petitioner, Baystate, claimed that the federal circuit court's decision upsets the delicate balance between creators and users of copyrighted material "by allowing the author to nullify through contract, the right to reverse engineer and, accordingly, take back the material dedicated to the public domain." He explained that, "in exchange for a copyright monopoly over certain protectable expression, the author yields to the public the unprotectable material in the work, along with the associated right to reverse engineer that work to discover and use its unprotectable material." ARL joined others in the library and public interest communities in an amicus brief in June.



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