Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components: Enjoining Proper Usage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s Anti-Circumvention Provisions

June 16, 2012

Since the adoption of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in 1998, the courts have failed to fully define the scope of which copyrighted works are protected by the anticircumvention provisions. Courts have struggled to define this scope because Congress promulgated the DMCA in the context of promoting commerce over the Internet. Congress, however, drafted the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions with such broad and arguably unambiguous language5 that courts have been hardpressed to limit the application of the provisions to Internet commerce. Yet, not until Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components had a court interpreted the scope of the anticircumvention provisions as broad enough to protect purely functional, not independently marketed, copyrighted works.
This Recent Development uses Lexmark as a case study and comes to the conclusion that although the anti-circumvention provisions seem to apply to the Lexmark facts courts should not allow plaintiffs to use the anti-circumvention provisions to protect purely functional and not independently marketed copyrighted works because doing so leads to outcomes that are contrary to public policy.