31 Oct 2017

Portugal bans use of DRM that limits access to public domain works

By Electronic Frontier Foundation

With the tendency of becoming too accustomed to bad news on copyright, it is refreshing to hear that Portugal has recently passed a law that helps to strike a fairer balance between users and copyright holders on digital rights management (DRM).

The law does not abolish legal protection for DRM altogether – unfortunately, that would not be possible for Portugal to do unilaterally, because it would be inconsistent with European Union law and with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty to which the EU is a signatory. However, Law No. 36/2017 of 2 June, 2017, which entered into force on 3 June, 2017, does grant some important new exceptions to the law’s anti-circumvention provisions, which make it easier for users to exercise their rights to access content without being treated as criminals.

The amendments to Articles 217 and 221 of Portugal’s Code of Copyright and Related Rights do three things. First, they provide that the anti-circumvention ban does not apply to circumvention of DRM in order to enjoy the normal exercise of copyright limitations and exceptions that are provided by Portuguese law. Although Portugal does not have a generalised fair use exception, the more specific copyright exceptions in Articles 75(2), 81, 152(4) and 189(1) of its law do include some key fair uses; including reproduction for private use, for news reporting, by libraries and archives, in teaching and education, in quotation, for persons with disabilities, and for digitising orphan works. The circumvention of DRM in order to exercise these user rights is now legally protected.

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Second and perhaps even more significantly, the law prohibits the application of DRM to certain categories of works in the first place. These are works in the public domain (including new editions of works already in the public domain), and to works published or financed by the government. This provision alone will be a boon for libraries, archives, and for those with disabilities, ensuring that they never again have to worry about being unable to access or preserve works that ought to be free for everyone to use. The application of DRM to such works will now be an offence under the law, and if DRM has been applied to such works nevertheless, it will be permitted for a user to circumvent it.

Third, the law also permits DRM to be circumvented where it was applied without the authorisation of the copyright holder. From now on, if a licensee of a copyright work wishes to apply DRM to it when it is distributed in a new format or over a new streaming service, the burden will be on them to ask the copyright owner’s permission first. If they do not do that, then it will not be an offence for its customers to bypass the DRM in order to obtain unimpeded access to the work, as its copyright owner may well have intended.

If there is a shortcoming to the law, it is that it doesn’t include any new exceptions to the ban on creating or distributing (or as lawmakers ludicrously call it, “trafficking in”) anti-circumvention devices. This means that although users are now authorised to bypass DRM in more cases than before, they’re on their own when it comes to accomplishing this. The amendments ought to have established clear exceptions authorising the development and distribution of circumvention tools that have lawful uses, rather than leaving users to gain access to such tools through legally murky channels.

Overall though, these amendments go to show just how much flexibility countries have to craft laws on DRM that strike a fairer balance between users and copyright holders – even if, like Portugal, those countries have international obligations that require them to have anti-circumvention laws. EDRi member Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) applauds Portugal for recognising the harmful effects that DRM has access to knowledge and information, and hopes that these amendments will provide a model for other countries wishing to make a similar stand for users’ rights.

Copyright reform: Document pool

Copyfail #9: Digital Rights Management (DRM): Restricting lending and borrowing books and music in digital format  (20.07.2016)

(Contribution by Jeremy Malcolm, EDRi member Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), USA; Adaptation by Maren Schmid, EDRi intern)



20 Jul 2016

Copyfail #9: Digital Rights Management (DRM): Restricting lending and borrowing books and music in digital format

By Diego Naranjo

This article is the ninth in the series presenting Copyfails.

The EU is reforming its copyright rules. We want to introduce you to the main failures of the current copyright system, with suggestions on how to fix them. You can find all the Copyfails here.

How has it failed?

We are able to lend book to our friends, make photocopies of its pages, quote parts of the text, or sell our book to a second-hand bookshop. But with digital works like ebooks, CDs, or DVDs, users often face technical restrictions. You cannot lend your ebook to a friend (without lending your e-reader, too), or make a copy of your copy-protected DVD, not even for your own private use. Even if your government says you are allowed to, European and international law says companies are permitted to question it by using “Digital Rights Management” (DRM), software that limits copying.

DRM is a collection of systems used to protect copyright on electronic media, such as digital music and films, as well as computer software. It attempts to control the user’s ability to access, copy, transfer and convert material. Circumventing DRM technologies is forbidden in EU copyright law.

Given the fact that DRM is a blunt tool that does not take into consideration the legal freedoms to use copyrighted works for parody, citation, quotation, private copying and so on, not allowing the circumvention DRM means in practice giving away all those rights. DRM, as a rule, take all of those freedoms from you, in the name of stopping copyright violations.


Why is this important?

If someone puts a lock on something you own, you are not the owner. DRMs are digital locks which are put on your devices without asking your opinion or permission to install them and, even worse, without giving you the key. Copyright experts widely agree that DRM systems don’t achieve their intended purpose; they are bad for society, businesses and artists.

Copyright is supposed to guarantee that artists and creators get paid for their work – that there are incentives to creativity. Copyright should not be used as an excuse to restrict our freedoms or access to knowledge and learning. DRM does not fix the problem it is supposed to fix – unauthorised copying and exchanging of ebooks, music, and videos – and it adds unnecessary restrictions on legally acquired content.

How to fix it?


Read more:

Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle (17.07.2009)

DRM Frequently Asked Questions

Electronic Frontier Foundation: DRM

Amazon wipes customer’s Kindle and deletes account with no explanation (22.10.2012)



05 Feb 2012


By Marc Smits

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is, in simple terms, any technology that is built into an electronic product or service with the aim of limiting its range of uses after purchase. It is designed to prevent consumers from using digital technology in ways that do not correspond to the business agenda of a content provider or device manufacturer.

DRM essentially removes the property right of the consumer over the product that s/he has paid for, penalising him or her for using a legal copy.

05 Dec 2007

UK Retailers blow the whistle on DRM


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) asks the music industry to get
rid of DRM which they consider responsible for the continuously decreasing
of online music sales in UK.

The industry music seems to ignore the consumers’ preferences who are
displeased with the copy protection systems imposing limitations on the
content use. Additionally, the occurrence of various incompatible DRM
formats has led to confusion and reserve with the consumers who tend to
prefer file-sharing, lest they should find themselves in the position of not
being able to play the music on their electronic equipment.

According to Kim Bayley, ERA director, the DRM is “working against the
consumer interest” and “puts consumers off”. In a statement to Financial
Times, she has made reference to a survey already discussed in the
EDRi-gram, carried out by Entertainment Media Research and media law firm
Olswang. The study has revealed the fact that four out of five consumers
would rather have copy protection free versions of the music they want to
buy. Therefore, many of them go to file-sharing peer-to-peer services.

Some recording companies, like EMI and Universal have already offered DRM
free catalogues and have experienced increased sales after that which is an
argument in favour of dropping DRM. During the last three years, an average
of one song per resident was sold online in UK, a sign that it’s time the
music industry gave up DRM if they want to see any improvement in the online

UK retailers to record labels: DRM is killing us (21.11.2007)

UK retailers join the anti-DRM crusade (23.11.2007)

UK retailers complain DRM is “stifling” music (21.11.2007)

EDRI-gram: DRM-free music is supported by consumers (29.08.2007)

EDRI-gram: DRM debate continues in Europe (28.02.2007)

29 Aug 2007

DRM-free music is supported by consumers


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A new survey regarding music online conducted by Entertainment Media
Research in association with the law firm Olswang showed that the DRM
(Digital Rights Management) related problems are more present in UK
consumers’ opinion than the music industry initially thought.

The survey was made on more than 1,700 respondents, a sample drawn from
Entertainment Media Research’s UK panel of 300,000 music consumers. The
survey was performed in June 2007.

It shows that the number of people that have never heard about DRM dropped
from 50% to 37% in just one year. Moreover, the number of respondents that
claimed to have a good or exact knowledge of DRM almost tripled in the past

Regarding the DRM-related questions the report underlines that DRM is an
increasingly hot topic for consumers, with 68% of respondents who expressed
the opinion that downloads are “Only worth purchasing if free of DRM.” Also,
more people would prefer to pay a little extra for tracks free of DRM than
to pay the standard price and have restrictions.

The survey confirms the bad reputation of DRM within the UK consumers and
triggers some significant question marks for the music industry, at a time
when, according to the same survey, unauthorized downloading increased
across every single demographic category measured. Within the same timeframe
the legal downloading was still growing at a substantial pace (15%), but
less than it was expected.

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the biggest music labels
are trying to cope with the new situation. Universal Music announced in
August 2007 that it would sell thousands of albums and tracks available in
MP3-format without a DRM protection. “The experiment will run from August to
January and analyse such factors as consumer demand, price sensitivity and
piracy in regards to the availability of open MP3s.” The music, including
tracks of 50 Cent, the Black Eyed Peas or Amy Winehouse, will be sold
through Google, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.com, but not through iTunes.

Survey says: only DRM-free music is worth paying for ( 5.08.2007)

The 2007 Digital Music Survey (07.2007)

Universal sells songs without DRM (10.08.2007)

EDRI-gram: Is DRM fading out? (17.01.2007)

04 Jul 2007

French Internet users are not properly informed on DRM


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The UFC- Que Choisir association has revealed the results of an online study
performed in February 2007 regarding the use of DRM (Digital Rights
Management) systems imposing third-party restrictions on the users of a
reading device.

The poll has shown that most French Internet users have not been properly
informed on the restrictions that DRM systems involve and that they
definitely would like these technical protections out.

The poll covered about 800 Internet users that had already bought music
online. Out of these, 51% stated they had never been informed on the usage
restrictions that DRM imposes and 65% of them thought they could listen to
the music they had legally bought on any device without any constraints.

According to the study, 20% of the respondents have already experienced the
situation of buying music online that they could not listen to on the
devices they had. Most respondents (about 90%) consider it is very important
to be able to use any kind of device to read the music they buy.

UFC-Que Choisir association asks from the French Government to revise the
so-called DADVSI law in order “to refuse the producers the unilateral
freedom to impose DRM contrary to the basic consumers’ rights”.

UFC-Que Choisir’s main preoccupation is interoperability for the consumers.
“The musical world can very well live without the DRM. Even better” said
Edouard Barreiro, in charge with new technologies within the association.
“If the legislator cannot interdict the use of DRM, the industry should at
least be imposed to use at least a unique DRM format to provide the

Some of the music distribution companies such as EMI group or Universal have
already started having initiatives of providing DRM free music online. As
Denis Olivennes, owner of Fnac commercial website, stated: A non-restricted
title is sold twice a DRM bound one.

The Internet users do not know DRM well (only in French, 26.06.2007)

Music : the consumer does not want DRM (only in French, 28.06.2007)

DRM: the consumers do not want restrictions (only in French, 27.06.2007)

EDRI-gram:France establishes the DRM-regulation authority (12.04.2007)

12 Apr 2007

France establishes the DRM-regulation authority


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The independent authority foreseen by the new French law on copyright
(DADVSI) was created in the last days of the Villepin government. This
Authority for Regulations of the DRMs (Autorité de régulation des mesures
techniques – ARMT) should ensure the interoperability of the DRM systems and
allow the private copies.

Even though the law has been in force since August 2006, the official
normative act creating the authority was published in the Official Journal
only on 4 April 2007 and, a few days later, the Ministry of Culture has
officially created the new authority. ARMT will be responsible, according to
the DADVSI law, with seeing that the DRM systems do not create additional
limitations in the use of artistic works to those explicitly expressed by
the copyright holders.

ARMT is formed by six members nominated for a 6-year mandate. The first
members of the authority are already under scrutiny. Julien Dourgnon from
the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir shows that there are significant
conflict of interests for some members of the Commission, especially by the
nomination of President of the Commission for the private copy levies,
Tristan d’Albis.

The French Minister of Culture seemed very pleased with the creation of the
new authority, even though the debate on interoperability has developed a
lot since last year debates. The new decision from EMI and Apple to release
DRM-free music for its iTunes service could mean that the new commission
will not have too much work on its hands.

AMRT should have an essential role in balancing the copyright with consumer
rights. It should establish the minimum number of private copies of a work
for consumers. The authority can receive complaints from consumers and
other target groups of the private copy exception (such as disabled persons
or librarians).

One of the main actors in the French interoperability debate, UFC-Que
Choisir, has contested the way the new commission will work under the
adopted copyright law, since the consumers associations do not have the
right to complain to the new authority on interoperability issues.

Decree no.2007-510 from 4 April 2007 concerning the creation of ARMT (only
in French, 6.04.2007)

An arbiter for solving the private copy disputes (only in French,

The Government didn’t really understood anything about Internet (only in
French, 6.04.2007)

EDRI-gram: New French copyright law gives Apple satisfaction (5.07.2007)

12 Apr 2007

Free-DRM music by iTunes, but EC starts official investigation


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

EMI and Apple announced in the beginning of April 2007 that EMI Music’s
entire digital catalogue of music will be available for purchase without DRM
from the iTunes worldwide in May. This is also the result of several
complaints from consumer advocates and European Commission (EC) officials on
iTunes practices.However, this decision hasn’t stop the EC to send Apple and
other four record labels a Statement of Objections, considering that their
business practices might be restrictive in terms of the EU treaty.

The agreement between EMI and iTunes was presented on 2 April 2007 by EMI’s
CEO Eric Nicoli and Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs. Apple announced that the higher
quality versions of songs without DRM will be sold for 1.29 USD rather than
0.99 USD. iTunes will also offer the possibility to upgrade the previously
purchased EMI content to the DRM-free format for 0.30 USD/song. At the
same time the EMI music videos will also be available in DRM-free format
with no change in price.

The news was welcomed by several consumer organizations that have criticized
the iTunes system for a long time, such as the Federation of German
Consumer Organizations (vzbv). “An important step has been made towards
meeting our demands. Now other music companies need to follow suit,” the
deputy head of the vzbv Patrick von Braunmühl.

EDRI-member Ian Brown points out that the pressure by the EC, Norwegian,
French and German consumer ombudsmen and digital rights activists “has made
it extremely difficult for Apple to justify its continued lock-in of iTunes

Just one week before the announcement, the consumer protection organizations
from Germany, France, Norway and Finland had a common meeting with a
delegation of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry
(IFPI) on interoperability and DRM issues. The discussions that were held in
Oslo, took place at the request of the IFPI. The consumer NGOs sent
an ultimatum to iTunes on selling DRM-free music. This seems to have an

Despite the announcement from EMI and Apple, the European Commission sent to
Apple and other four record companies statement of objections, which is the
first formal step in an European antitrust investigation. The companies have
two months to defend themselves in writing. The EC actions were based not on
the DRM debate, but on the different prices the company has pushed in
Europe. This follows a complaint by Which? about the fact that UK users of
iTunes paid for songs about 1.16 Euro, compared with 0.99 Euro/song, which
is the price in other EU member states.

The Commission explained that the main problem is that “consumers can only
buy music from the iTunes’ on-line store in their country of residence.
Consumers are thus restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and
consequently what music is available, and at what price. The Commission
alleges in the Statement of Objections that these agreements violate the EC
Treaty’s rules prohibiting restrictive business practices (Article 81).”

Apple strikes deal with EMI but European regulators are not pacified

Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store (2.04.2007)

EC goes Apple hunting – reports (3.04.2007)

Consumer advocates welcome DRM-free music (3.04.2007)

EDRI-gram: iTunes under continuous attack in Europe (31.01.2007)

EDRI-gram : Is DRM fading out ? (17.01.2007)

28 Feb 2007

DRM debate continues in Europe


(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 19 February 2007, the UK Government rejected an online petition initiated
by blogger Neil Holmes and signed by 1,414 people asking for the
interdiction of DRM (Digital Rights Management), arguing DRM systems deprive
the consumers of their freedom of choice between competing products for CDs
or digital download.

The UK government rejected the petition answering that DRM could bring value
to consumers as it did not only act as a protection system but “also enables
content companies to offer the consumer unprecedented choice in terms of how
they consume content, and the corresponding price they wish to pay”.

As regarding the rights of the consumers, the UK government considers that
“It is reasonable for consumers to be informed what is actually being
offered for sale, for example, and how and where the purchaser will be able
to use the product, and any restrictions applied”.

The DRM question continues to be a hot debate in Europe. Becky Hogge,
executive director at the UK Open Rights Group, thinks “DRM had been seen in
the past as a niche technology issue, but there is now rising consumer
awareness about it”. She also stated that some DRM technologies place
restrictions that infringe the users’ rights according to the U.K. copyright
law. “DRM attempts to enforce copyright, but it does it badly,” said Hogge.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection,
together with consumer organizations have drawn up a “Charter for Consumer
Sovereignty in the Digital World,” calling on operators of Web music shops
such as Apple to open up their closed systems. The charter draft is said to
be presented in March 2007 at a conference of European consumer protection

The earlier plans of some music labels to provide music without DRM could be
with no real consequences since recently EMI broken off talks about offering
DRM-free music via the downloading services. One of the reasons was
apparently the large upfront payments requested by EMO from the online

U.K. government rejects calls for DRM ban (20.02.2007)

Apple & Co. threatened with opening clauses for online music shop DRM

EMI: DRM stays (26.02.2007)

EDRI-gram: iTunes under continuous attack in Europe (31.01.2007)

EDRI-gram : Is DRM fading out ? (17.01.2007)