German library allowed to crack copy protection

By EDRi · January 26, 2005

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
should voluntary agreements between rightsholders and ‘beneficiaries of
exceptions or limitations’ fail. One of these permitted exceptions, that
can be introduced by Member States, is Article 5.2c: “in respect of
specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries,
educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for
direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage.”

The German transposition of the EUCD, entered into force in September
2003, did not explicitly acknowledge this limitation, but allows users to
circumvent technical measures for private, non-commercial archiving
purposes. This exception indirectly also applies to libraries and
archives, but depends on permission from the rightsholders. In the
explanatory memorandum of the second ‘basket’ of copyright legislation,
proposed in September 2004, the legislator only introduces a specific
exception for libraries to make works available online, at the library,
but declines any further clarification on the archiving issue.

The German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German
Booksellers and Publishers Association have agreed to allow the library to
fulfil its legal obligation to collect and make available material for
long-term archiving purposes. The agreement also allows the library to
break digital locks on books and music for scientific purposes of users,
for collections for school or educational purposes, for instruction and
research as well as on works that are out of print. These duplications are
subjected to a fee and possibly a digital watermark. Rightholders may
either supply a lock-free copy of a work, but if not, the library may
circumvent the protection.

Joint press release library and rightsholders (English, January 2005)

German Library Allowed To Crack Copy Protection

EU Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC (22.05.2001)

German copyright legislation (first basket, 10.09.2003)