Is A Captcha DRM? Craigslist Wins Default Judgment Claiming Yes

from the uh-oh... dept

Last year, we wrote about a troubling set of lawsuits filed by Craigslist that seemed very dangerous, as it was pushing the boundaries on a series of legal concepts, all of which could come back to haunt Craigslist (and others) at a later date. For example, we noted that there was a “weak” DMCA claim that said that the captchas used by Craigslist to get people to prove they were human were actually “technological protection measures,” and circumventing them violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. While it’s not the same lawsuit (apparently Craigslist had filed even more such lawsuits), Ray Dowd has the details of Craigslist winning a default judgment in a similar lawsuit after the company sued didn’t bother to defend itself. This is why the concept of default judgments always concerns me. Now we have a ruling on the books that finds captchas are like DRM, and getting around them even if for perfectly legal purposes (can’t read ’em?) may count as violating the DMCA.

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Companies: craigslist

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Comments on “Is A Captcha DRM? Craigslist Wins Default Judgment Claiming Yes”

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Another one bites the dust. Craigslist was a great service. But you know the history of computers is if you sue you eventually will die. Look at Lotus (remember them) sued over their dropdown menus and voila no more Lotus and lots of dropdown menus. Maybe Craigslist wants to be owned by IBM like Lotus is.

R. Milessays:

Oh, good grief.

Captchas are the dumbest things I’ve ever seen implemented as a “security” measure. If a site’s that concerned over spam posts, then maybe it shouldn’t offer the option.

Yes, this includes Craigslist. It’s not as though spam posts aren’t included with the captcha anyway.

I enjoyed the “can’t read them” remark, given so many are designed so badly (to circumvent scripts which can read them) they’re more annoying than they are helpful, especially with those few sites which cancel the request after two-three failed attempts.

It could be worse, I guess. They could all be Flash based.


Talk about a misnomer...

Digital Rights Management… er…

Captacha is not;

Digitial – it uses analog eyeballs as the determinating factor, and the analog human fingers as a converter to digital (via keyboard).

Rights – being identified as human via capcha does not award a “right”, in the sense that a Gorilla that passes as capcha doesn’t award them the “rights” of being identified as a “human”.

Management – not managed in any sense, but totally on-the-fly.

Re: Talk about a misnomer...

I disagree about the inapplicability of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions to CAPTACHA.

The anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA was intended to criminalize attempts to remove or bypass any security scheme from a digital product in order to gain unlawful access to a product.

This has been applied to the reverse engineering of hardware and software in the last few years. Although originally intended to protect entertainment media (music, movies, books), there is no reason the protections could not in principle be extended to a service such as

Or so I think. But I am not a lawyer.


“Ray Dowd has the details of Craigslist winning a default judgment in a similar lawsuit after the company sued didn’t bother to defend itself. This is why the concept of default judgments always concerns me.”

You get sued and can’t be bothered defending yourself, right or wrong, you fucking deserve what you get. If the concept of default judgments didn’t exist, you could sue someone, they tell you to go fuck yourself, don’t show up in court, then what? You chase them until you run out of money?

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