Civil society answers to DRM consultation

By EDRi · September 22, 2004

In response to an informal consultation by the European Commission on a report on the future of Digital Rights Management (DRM), several digital rights organisations have sent in statements. The report was prepared by a High Level Group consisting of companies and industry groups. As user representative only the European Consumers Union (BEUC) was invited to participate, and it withdrew its support from this report.

EDRI member FIPR points out the democratic failure of this process. “The consumer representative (BEUC) was unable to subscribe to most of its recommendations. It is quite improper for the Report to nonetheless represent its findings as a ‘consensus’.”

The German group “urges the commission to create conditions under which the privacy of information users and their ‘right to read anonymously’ are guaranteed.” A similar point is made in the Italian response (including Associazione Software Libero and the Italian Linux Society). “We notice that leaving it to ‘rights holders to build balanced business practices with their customers’ is a short-sighted position because it does not consider that the balance between right holders and society – the pivot of all laws on human intellectual production and on the related economic exploitation – cannot be guaranteed neither by one of the two sides alone nor by the market tout court.” And the Italian paper concludes with the demands that no personal or characteristic data of the user should be required, detected or used when not absolutely necessary to the authentication mechanism and DRM systems may not include or allow user tracking features. also criticises the legal reference in the report to the origin of the private copying exception in the 1960s in Germany. The report states it “emerged in view of the de facto non-enforceability of the reproduction right”, but omits to mention “the central argument of the Supreme Court decision that led to the introduction of the exception: that enforcement of copyrights in private homes would conflict with the inviolability of the private sphere. This argument still holds, as DRMs structurally violate the private sphere.”

“The Report does not bother itself with these or, in fact, any arguments with respect to the purpose of the private copying exception. It simply posits: “A priority of all stake-holders is the effective deployment and legal protection of DRMs…” We would like to emphasise again that the stakeholders in question expressly exclude the single representative of consumers invited to the HLG, and they also exclude a great number of other stakeholders whose priority it is to prevent DRM, among them many leading media and especially cryptography experts.”

The UK Campaign for Digital Rights urges the European Commission to amend the Copyright Directive of 2001 “to permit circumvention of technological protection measures where such circumvention is undertaken for lawful purposes (e.g., writing a computer programme which may read one’s own Microsoft Word documents once Microsoft introduces DRM to its Office suite).” response to DRM consultation (20.09.2004)

Several Italian associations, communities and individuals (20.09.2004)

FIPR response to DRM consultation (20.09.2004)

CDR response to DRM consultation (20.09.2004)