Accommodation of particular technological protection measures
The Committee was concerned that the provisions of subsections 1201(a)(2) and (b) might be read to mandate that manufacturers of consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computing products design their products and components to respond to particular technological protection measures employed to protect copyrighted works. Subsection 1201(d)(3) addresses this concern and clarifies that section 1201 does not impose any affirmative design mandates on manufacturers of consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computing products. The fact that a product or component does not respond to any particular technological protection measure, standing alone, neither creates liability under section 1201 nor immunizes those trafficking in the product, part or component from liability. This provision recognizes that there may be legitimate reasons for a product or component’s failure to respond to a particular technological measure--such as design efficiency or ensuring high quality output from the product--as well as illegitimate reasons--such as an unlawful intent to circumvent the protection measure.
That a component or part’s failure to respond to a technological measure does not immunize the product or component from further review under section 1201 is made clear by the following example. Suppose a device expressly intended to circumvent an effective technological protection measure commonly employed to protect copyrighted works contained a component that was critical to the effectiveness of the device in achieving its stated purpose. Suppose further that the product was marketed as a circumvention device and had no commercially significant purposes or use other than to circumvent. That component would not provide the desired response to the effective technological protection measure, but the product would still clearly run afoul of section 1201 in light of the device manufacturer’s unlawful intent, the marketing strategy and the lack of other commercially significant uses for the product.
On the other hand, suppose a manufacturer of a state-of-the-art consumer electronics device, which did not circumvent any technological protection measure when it was introduced into the market and which was designed and marketed for a purpose other than circumventing any technological protection measures, was sued for violating section 1201 because the device did not accommodate a particular technological protection measure developed after the device was designed and sold. In such a case, section 1201(d)(3) would make it clear that the device’s failure to accommodate this new protection measure does not render the device unlawful, and in light of the nature of the product, the manner in which it functions, the way it had been marketed and its obvious legitimate uses (assuming the device continues to be marketed and produced for the same legitimate uses), there would clearly be no basis for arguing that the device was unlawful under section 1201.