Something big and scary has happened in the Android industry in the past few days. Qualcomm, the American global semiconductor company that designs and markets wireless telecommunications products and services has in just the span of a few days, created and withdrawn a Digital Millennium Copyright Act request.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. (definition source)
The request made by Qualcomm has taken down 116 code repositories that were allegedly utilizing the company’s confidential technology. However as it turns out, some of the companies or individuals affected were actually using the company’s open source software legitimately and legally. The request had shut down the code bases maintained by the CyanogenMod, Sony and even Qualcomm itself.
Why is this such a bad thing for us especially Android users? Basically, if this request has actually gone through, users won’t be able to modify or do anything to Android devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Even if you could, be ready for migraines. We’re not sure why Qualcomm decided to make such a move but the company just commented that it ‘will be taking a more cautious approach from now on.’ Qualcomm further comment that it will be ‘reaching out collaboratively’ to find a peaceful solution to any disputes before the damaging and costly legal disputes start creeping up.
Don’t be surprised if some of the major corporations find themselves dealing with this issue again in the near future. At present, the American company have retracted the request so we can all breath easy… for now.