INDICARE releases report on DRM and consumers

By EDRi · January 12, 2005

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)”

After outlining the European Commission’s initiatives and European research projects on DRM, the report looks into the concerns of customers with disabilities and institutional customers such as libraries, science, and education. The fourth chapter is devoted to the legal aspects of DRM, especially the balance between the exceptions in article 5 and the circumvention ban in article 6.1 of the European Copyright Directive. While the private copying exemption in the EUCD in theory tries to balance the interests of users and copyright owners, in practice the legal standing is dubious. “In recent French and Belgium court cases relating to DRM and private copying, it was stressed that consumers have no right to private copying. This is expressly noted in a French court case, in which the private copying of a DVD was deemed a privilege and not a right under French law. In the Belgium case it was decided that private copying was not considered a right, but a ‘legally granted immunity against prosecution.’ The author concludes: “while it used to be the rightsholder that had to enforce its rights against infringers, under a DRM scheme it has become the consumer who has to secure his interests through
an often costly procedure.(page 48-49)” He also examines general consumer protection law as a solution to protect user rights, but finds “the scope of this protection may not always be clear. Moreover, the enforcement of applicable provisions in the judiciary may not be so easy for individual consumers in practice.”

Chapter 5 describes the technical aspects and development. Here the author seem to focus on right description languages (ODRL/XrML), in stead of looking at the control-components. From a privacy-perspective and looking at standards and interoperability these components are much more crucial. The attention paid to privacy-issues is minimal, especially when discussing Trusted Computing. Maybe this can be explored in the two promised updates of the report.

Digital Rights Management and Consumer Acceptability. A Multi-Disciplinary Discussion of Consumer Concerns and Expectations (15.12.2004)