Let's say I have found the private key used to digitally sign executables that can be flashed into certain hardware.

If I made a tool that took any compatible binary as an input, and used that private key to provide the signed file as an output, would that...

  1. ...violate copyright law because of the private key distribution? Or more accurately, are private keys generated randomly by a program (say, OpenSSL) copyrightable in the first place?
  2. ... break the DMCA 1021 section? (Assuming that the key isn't used to decrypt a copyrighted work, but just to allow for any binary that is signed with it to be executed in the target hardware)
  • Do you see even a tiny bit of creativity in the choice of the key? Feb 21, 2021 at 19:51
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? How can a database derived from copyrighted works be public domain?
    – user4657
    Feb 22, 2021 at 3:49
  • @GeorgeWhite Well, in some cases, you can generate keys with custom fingerprints, but that usually only gives you creative control over around 8 hexadecimal characters.
    – forest
    Feb 22, 2021 at 6:31
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    The linked question is only distantly related. This should not be closed as a duplicate. Feb 22, 2021 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


Only literary or artistic works have copyright

A number, on its own, is neither.

Of course, a number that is a digital representation of say, The Lord if the Rings, is a copy of a copyrighted work but it is not, of itself, copyrighted.

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