Digital Rights Management
In November 2005 BEUC (the coalition of all consumers' organisations in Europe) has launched a Campaign on Consumers' Digital Rights. The campaign is meant to show consumers what their digital rights are. BEUC is supported by Zusana Roithova, Member of the European Parliament, Czech Republic.
The campaign highlights the complex threats for consumers in today's digital world. Data retention, covering commercial and non-commercial infringements under the same "piracy" umbrella, the general criminalisation of consumers and last but not least, DRM (Digital Rights Management).
Within this campaign a dedicated website was created at http://www.consumersdigitalrights.org/ , available in English, French and German. The website includes a compilation of musical tracks from 14 artists
The Business Software Alliance has issued a report on the growing online music market. According to the BSA, in western Europe alone it is expected to grow more than 500% by 2008 to 559.1 million euro, from 106.4 million euro this year. The BSA states most of this content is protected by digital rights management, thus making the current levies on recordable media superfluous.
Quoting a report from the powerful German industry association Bitkom about the fact most Germans pay around 150 euro per year on levies on recordable media such as CDs and tapes, BSA calls on all national governments in the EU to phase out the levy system.
The UK, Ireland and Luxembourg do not have a levy system, but in other countries the levies are continuously rising. A previous BSA study forecasted a 500% rise in private copy levies from 2002 to 2006 in France,
On 22 April 2005, a Paris appeal court has outlawed the use of a copy protection mechanism on a DVD. The case was launched by the French consumer union UFC-Que Choisir early in 2004, on behalf of a customer who had unsuccessfully tried to copy a DVD of David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive. She tried to copy the DVD to regular video for her mother, who didn't have any computer or DVD-player.
In April 2004 the court in first instance rejected the demand, but in appeal the court has declared it forbidden to apply copy-prevention because it violates the right to make a private copy. On top of that, the court criticised the lack of an explicit warning on the cover. There was a very small sign with the letters CP, which is supposed to mean 'copy prohibited'. The producers and the distributor must now pay the customer 250 euro to compensate for the inconvenience and the union 1.500 euro to cover basic legal costs.
After signing an international petition urging the WIPO to open its doors to non-governmental organisations for the important debates on developing an alternative development agenda, European Digital Rights was awarded last-minute ad hoc accreditation on 11 April 2005. The German DRM-expert Volker Grassmuck was able to make a statement on behalf of EDRI during a special Inter-sessional Inter-governmental Meeting (IIM) from 11-15 April 2005.
Grassmuck concentrated on the conflict between the circumvention protection of DRM and copyright exceptions. Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty obligates Members to "provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures." Many WIPO Members, including most European countries have therefore introduced anti-circumvention provisions into
On 3-4 February 2005, more than 60 academics, researchers and scientists, software developers, diplomats, librarians, consumers and representatives of disability and other public interest groups from north and south gathered in Geneva to discuss the WIPO Development Agenda and a draft Treaty on Access to Knowledge (A2K). The meeting was organised by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), Third World Network (TWN) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
The aim of the meeting was to find common ground amongst the diverse range of interest groups who feel harmed by current intellectual property regimes, to discuss proposals for a draft treaty on access to knowledge and to start to build a global, social movement to advance the Access to Knowledge agenda.
The EU Data Protection Working Party is calling for public comments on two working documents on emerging technologies. One document explores the privacy implications of RFID chips, the other document covers digital management of rights systems (DRM).
The RFID document outlines the potential use of RFID technology in various sectors and the need to comply with the basic principles set out in the EU data protection directives whenever personal data are collected using RFID technology. The paper also provides guidance to manufacturers of the technology (RFID tags, readers and applications) as well as RFID standardisation bodies. They have a responsibility to design privacy compliant technology in order to enable deployers of the technology to carry out their obligations under the data protection directives.
The German national library (Deutsche Bibliothek) has negiotated a license with rightholders to legally circumvent copy protection mechanisms on CD-roms, videos, software and E-books. It seems this is the first library in Europe to have managed a voluntary agreement on the strict new anti-circumvention rules prescribed by the EU copyright directive of 2001 (2001/29/EC). Article 6 of the EUCD prohibits acts of circumvention, as well as the distribution of tools and technologies used for circumvention of access control or copy protection measures. Member States could choose between penal or civil sanctions for infringement. Germany has chosen penal sanctions, with large fines or a 3 year prison sentence for circumvention for a commercial purpose.
Article 6.4 of the EUCD calls on governments to take appropriate measures
INDICARE has issued a report on consumer concerns with respect to DRM. INDICARE (the Informed Dialogue about Consumer Acceptability of DRM Solutions in Europe) is a consortium of 3 academic institutions and a company from Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands, funded with EU money under the E-Content Programme. The report was written by eight different experts.
The report demonstrates that interests and concerns of consumers are insufficiently considered in the context of DRM-protected digital content. One conclusion is "While some developments of applied business models seem to head slightly into the direction of consumers expectations (e.g. increased number of burns or copies of DRM-protected products), the observed statements point to many other consumer concerns that are still insufficiently taken into account, in particular issues of privacy, transparency and contractual fairness, interoperability, security and hardware issues, flexible business models, product diversity and pricing concerns.(page 42)"