It may be illegal to delete files

I consider Stottlemire’s actions unethical. But he does have a point:

Stottlemire, 42, of Fremont, California, insists there was no encryption or hacking involved, and therefore he did not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. “I honestly think there are big problems when you are not allowed to delete files off of your computer,” says Stottlemire.

I also think he is on shaky, at best, legal ground. The law says:

`(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that–

`(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

`(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or

`(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person’s knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

The law doesn’t say the circumvention has to have anything to do with “encryption or hacking”.

Where it gets interesting to me is that if someone were to design their copy protection based on the existence of a browser cookie such that if you had the cookie you couldn’t copy the “protected work” and if you didn’t you could do the copy. Then if someone make a program or script that selectively deleted just that one cookie they would be violating the law. But a web browser which allowed the user to selectively delete cookies would apparently not subject the authors to legal action. And furthermore someone who told you how delete the cookie with the browser or even the command prompt would not be subject to legal action either.