Diebold tried to muzzle its critics by claiming copyright on internal memos that showed its voting software to be unreliable:
A manufacturer of electronic voting equipment knowingly misrepresented its claims when it sent threatening letters to the Internet providers of people who had posted the company’s internal documents online, a federal judge has ruled.
Diebold Inc.’s letters claimed the leaked documents violated its copyrights under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and demanded that they be removed immediately. But the same law bars making threats when the copyright holder knows no infringement occurred.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a summary judgment in favor two Swarthmore college students, who posted the material, and their Internet provider Online Privacy Group, which declined to comply with Diebold’s demands.
In March 2003, a hacker broke into Diebold’s servers using an employee’s ID number, and copied a 1.8-gigabyte file of company announcements, software bulletins and internal e-mails dating to January 1999.
In his ruling, Fogel disagreed with the company’s legal claims.
“No reasonable copyright holder could have believed that the portions of the e-mail archive discussing possible technical problems with Diebold’s voting machines were protected by copyright,” he wrote.