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Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)

Posted by Steve Vondran | May 01, 2023

Attorney Steve® IP Law - Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Crash-course - Have A CFAA arbitration, mediation or litigation?  Call us at (877) 276-5084.

computer circumvention


A federal law known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was enacted in 1984 to make it illegal to gain unauthorized access to computers and data. Since then, it has undergone a number of amendments, the most recent of which was in 2008, to broaden its purview to cover cyber-related offenses including copyright infringement and anti-circumvention. This blog will give a thorough explanation of the CFAA's anti-circumvention and copyright infringement provisions.

The CFAA makes it illegal for someone to intentionally gain unauthorized access to computers or use them more often than is permitted. This means that people cannot share or download copyrighted content unlawfully using computers in the context of copyright infringement. The CFAA forbids people from selling passwords or other pieces of information that could be used to access computers or data without authorization.

The CFAA forbids people from getting beyond the technological safeguards put in place to safeguard copyrighted materials, like Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Therefore, users cannot circumvent DRM or use tools to remove DRM from copyrighted materials. This can be regarded as going against the CFAA.

Furthermore, the CFAA forbids giving a website false information in order to access restricted content. A person might be in violation of the CFAA if, for instance, they use a fake identity or email address to visit a website.

The CFAA has harsh consequences for violations. An individual may be subject to a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison sentence of up to 10 years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Affected parties, such as copyright holders, may also seek civil remedies in order to recover losses brought on by the violation.

25 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Examples ("CFAA")

To assist you in determining when breach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA") has taken place, here is a list of examples of things that might violate the CFAA.  This is general legal information only and not an exclusive list.
1. Using computer without authorization or in excess of what is permitted; 
2. Trading in passwords or other information that allows unauthorized access to computers;
3.  Illegal hacking of computers to obtain trade secrets
4. Using computer to perpetrate fraud; 

5. utilizing computer to access private financial or medical data;

6. gaining access to computer to steal or harm software or data;

7. gaining access to computer to obstruct it from running normally;

8. gaining access to computer to send program, data, code, or command;

9. knowingly injecting malware into computer system or network, such as virus or worm;

10. Making an effort to get around computer security measures;

11. Having, distributing, or utilizing harmful software;

12. attempting to break into computer network or system;

13. Offering products that can be utilized to perpetrate computer fraud;

14. Refusing to allow authorized people access;

15. Using remote access software to access computer system without authorization;

16. Modifying, deleting, or harming computer programs or data;

17. snooping on or rerouting electronic transmissions;

18. Invading network or computer system;

19. Accessing a computer system or network in order to commit copyright infringement;

20. gaining access to computer system or network in order to steal trade secrets;

21. utilizing network or computer system to carry out espionage;

sending harmful email messages or computer code;

23. extortion using computer, 
24. blackmail using computer, etc.

25. Using computer to steal someone's identity.

DMCA Copyright Anti-Circumvention under section 1201

10 examples of copyright infringement in violation of DMCA section 1201 anti-circumvention 

1. Using DRM software that has been cracked to copy content that is copyright protected.

2. Disseminating software to get around digital locks on works protected by copyright.

3. Offering or sharing techniques to unlock digital content with copyright protection.

4. Disseminating applications that disable copyrighted works' security measures.

5. Making a tool for unlocking digital locks on works protected by copyright available.

6. Disseminating or selling software that evades copyright security measures.

7. Providing services to bypass or eliminate digital locks on works protected by copyright.

8. Providing or selling gear that can be used to bypass digital locks on works protected by copyright.

9. Making technology available to unlock digital locks on works protected by copyright.

10. Disseminating software that disables digital locks on works protected by a copyright without the owner's consent.

This is not an exclusive list.

Contact a California CFAA Lawyer

In conclusion, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act forbids people from intentionally gaining unauthorized access to computers or going beyond their scope of permitted access. It also forbids people from selling passwords or other types of information that could be used to gain unauthorized access. Additionally, it establishes harsh penalties for violations and makes it illegal to get around technological safeguards used to safeguard copyrighted materials, such as Digital Rights Management software. Last but not least, it becomes unlawful to give a website false information in order to access items that are protected.
Please get in touch with qualified computer law attorney if you have any queries about the CFAA or any other legal matters.  We can be reached at (877) 276-5084 or fill out our contact form for more information.

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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