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[dvd-discuss] DMCA Blocks Import for Fair Use?

(Forwarded from DMCA Discussion list,

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [DMCA_discuss] Shafted by the DMCA
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 10:59:34 -0600
From: Colin McMillen <mcmi0037@tc.umn.edu>

I currently have a run-in with the DMCA that I believe may
be relatively unique.

I'm currently enrolled in a Real-Time Systems lab here at my
university (U. of Minnesota). As part of the lab, we are
using the Sega Dreamcast console as an RTS; we'll be writing
a scheduler for it and some simple games.

I believe (although I can't currently find the link) that
the Sega executives have officially said it's OK for
"amateurs" to develop for the Dreamcast, especially since
they no longer produce/support the console.

I ordered a Dreamcast Coders' Cable (a little device that
plugs into the DC and allows you to upload your code at
115200 bps to the DC) from lik-sang.com, a dealer based in
Hong Kong. This is a necessary item for amateur DC coding
(unless you want to fork out the money a more expensive
piece of hardware that does the same thing but with a higher
transfer rate).  The package was supposedly shipped UPS
express, to arrive here in 3-5 days.

After nearly two weeks of waiting, I determined that the
package had been sitting in a warehouse in Louisville for
over a week. I e-mailed UPS customer service about the
delay, and got the following response:

"Thank you for your inquiry.  We sincerely apologize for any
inconvenience caused by this matter.  Our system indicates
this package has been denied entry into the US by US customs
 The shipper of record has been notified and the package
will be returned to the shipper."

Now, I have a perfectly legitimate use for this cable, and
no illegitimate use, I do not own any DC games, legal or
pirated, nor do I have any real desire to. Classes simply
take too much of my time. The DC isn't even mine; it's my

My questions are: do I have any legal recourse? For all I
know, the $45 I spent on the item and its shipping are gone
forever; I have no idea what my chances are of getting it
back from a retailer in a foreign country. Should I push
this issue with the customs offices? At the very least, I'm
going to snail-mail my local legislators. Any other
suggestions, though?

- Colin McMillen


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