CASIO files DMCA complaint against user who hacked calculator to connect to the internet

The Github project has been suspended.

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The hacker who modified a cheap CASIO calculator to access the internet is for some reason being accused of copyright infringement by CASIO.

According to CASIO, the hacker, who goes by the name Neutrino, used copyrighted source code in his project. However, the hacker insists he developed the mod from scratch.

Neutrino is an Indian developer specializing in electronics hacks. Just over a month ago, inspired by the coronavirus pandemic, he posted a video showing how he build a handsfree and interactive hand wash dispenser on his YouTube Channel.

On his YouTube channel, he has only ten videos. But the CASIO calculator trick posted two weeks ago, is by far the most popular, with more than 650k views at the time of this writing.

It is impressive and inspiring to see someone transform a boring scientific calculator into something that can access the internet.

The project involved a CASIO FX-MS991, which you probably have somewhere in your drawer from your high school days. If not, it costs less than $20.

Talking to Torrent Freak, Neutrino said, “Since we were in lockdown, I wanted to do something really fun, which can keep me occupied for a week or two.”

According to an article published on Gizmodo, who were of course looking for the negative, said the invention could be used to cheat on exams. Neutrino stated that was not the intention. His hack is supposed to inspire others to invent and develop cool stuff.

Unfortunately, a somewhat innocent invention has caught the attention of REACT, an anti-counterfeit organization. REACT works for several big companies from multiple niches, from the likes of HP and Samsung to Gucci and even Unilever.

REACT wrote to Github, the site where you can find the repository of Neutrino’s calculator hack, demanding they take it down immediately as it exposes CASIO’s intellectual property.

Part of the complaint read:

“It came to our attention that the below-mentioned repository is using copyrighted source code in order to modify Casio’s copyrighted program.

“The code the repository contains is proprietary and not to be publicly published. The hosted content is a direct, literal copy of our client’s work. I hereby summon you to take expeditious action: to remove or to disable access to the infringing content immediately, but in any case no later than ten days as of today.”

Here is the DMCA notice REACT submitted.

Following the DMCA complaint, Github disabled the calculator hack repository. However, Neutrino claims all the work is his own – he did not copy any of CASIO’s source code.

“The code was written completely from scratch, and all the libraries included in my source file were open-source. Everything was clearly mentioned in the [now removed] readme file of my GitHub repository. They also allegedly accuse me by stating that ‘The entire repository is infringing’, but in reality, whatever the original content they pointed out has nothing to do with my code.”

He has since submitted a DMCA counternotice to Github, hoping his project is made public again. We can only wait and see who wins this “David vs. Goliath” battle.

Such legal actions by tech companies can discourage creativity and innovativeness by upcoming developers. No one wants to share their ideas and get a lawsuit as a reward.

If you're tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

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