7.13 CPHack case

Mattel obtained a worldwide injunction against the distribution of the CPHack tool, which revealed the list of websites blocked by Mattel's Cyber Patrol internet content blocking software. Lessig has made some critical comments about the outcome of the case:

  • How can a US court assert worldwide jurisdiction?

  • Is it right to allow a company to use the law to prevent people finding out what gets censored or what criteria are used to censor web pages? Lessig, as a US constitutional scholar, worries about things like free speech (i.e. the First Amendment).

  • The law was effectively used as a tool to prevent people criticising Mattel about their specific censorship practices.

  • Is it right to allow a company to use contract law to circumvent copyright law? The Cyber Patrol licence disallows reverse engineering a product to find out how it works, something that is allowed under copyright law.

  • Were the facts of the case appropriately decided? Lessig alleges that CPHack was released under a general public licence (GPL), which would mean Mattel could not control its distribution.

There have been a number of controversies surrounding filtering or blocking software, some of which are discussed in the next subsection.

7.12 The cease and desist game

7.14 Filter software