Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Three Little Pigs

Finally the summer has arrived. Just sat outside in the sun for a few minutes, taking a break from reading the Final Report of the European Commission's High Level Group on Digital Rights Management (HLG). It's lineup is content industry galore: GESAC, IFPI, Vivendi, Eurocinema, FEP – Federation European Publishers, BBC, France Telecom, Vodafone, Fast Web, Philips, Nokia, Alcatel, Hewlet Packard, Siemens. Even better, the three papers that form the core of the report (DRM and Interoperability, Private copying levies and DRM, Migration to legimate services) were provided by acclaimed objective sources Philips, HP and the IFPI. The IFPI represents the international recording industry, and has clear thoughts on copyright infringement:
There are many different terms for it, but unauthorised copying and dissemination of copyrighted works is theft, pure and simple. Pirates are the enemy of creativity and all creators. [...] To secure the same sort of protections in the on-line world that the music industry enjoys in the analogue world, copyright laws need updating. The fundamental principles behind the laws, however, remain unchanged. Copyright laws must ensure that artists, composers and record producers are strongly protected from internet piracy. Rights holders also need to be able to use the technologies of the internet to manage and control the use of their work
Theft, piracy, enemy, and finally the three little pigs: artists, composers, record producers. The big bad piracy wolf is coming, so let's start building before he huffs and he puffs and he blows their house in. DRM for building blocks and legal protection to cement it together. Familiar words in a familiar story, echoed in the HLG's final report:
An active political commitment from the European Commission and the Member States for the protection of content delivered via DRM is the way forward in the context of the legal framework, most notably the Copyright directive 2001/29/EC and the directive on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights.
I agree with the IFPI that "copyright laws need updating", though not so much to "secure the same sort of protections in the on-line world that the music industry enjoys in the analogue world." Both the Copyright Directive and the recent Enforcement Directive are more than apt to legally protect the (anti-circumvention) interests of the music industry. What should be asked for is an updating to secure the same sort of protections in the on-line world that users (as in consumers) enjoyed in the analogue world. The current rights holder centered copyright laws provide little practical protection for citizens. They can huff and puff "copyright limitations" as hard as they want, but content protected by DRM bricks is hard to blow away.

That there is an "active political commitment", as the HLG seeks, is more than revealed by its own composition. No surprise then that the only organisation representing consumer interests, the BEUC (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs), distanced itself from the greater part of the final report. It did not support the Private copying levies and DRM and Migration to legimate services papers, since consumer interests were not addressed at all.

We all know how the story ends: the big bad wolf finds a way round the bricks. He comes down the chimney, and ends up in a pot of boiling water, which the pigs have put on the fire. The pigs boil the wolf and eat him instead.
Copyright law makes fairy tales come true.


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