Monday, May 02, 2005

Head EC Copyright Unit Pro-DRM, Criticizes Collective Rights Management

The new head of the Copyright Unit of the European Commission, Tilman Lüde, presented the political agenda for the coming years at the Fordham International Intellectual Property Law & Policy Conference. One of the issue he commented on was the functioning of collective rights management organisations and their interplay with the use of Digital Rights Management systems [PDF of lecture]. He noted that collective rights management organisations are not transparent enough and seems to suggest that DRM is the way for the future:
"We also need to foster legitimate online business models and aim to avoid that traditional copyright remuneration models, such as levies on blank cassettes, CDs or even computer disks become an obstacle to the “take-up” of legitimate digital remuneration models. (...) In the era of electronic dissemination of music, film or text by means of “downloading” or internet “streaming” copyright traditional business models, including remuneration mechanisms that have been designed for the analogue environment, may no longer function in an online environment. The Internet has spurred change in consumer behaviour and traditional business models for remunerating authors need to adapt."
The interplay between copyright remuneration through levies and DRM has been expressed in the European Copyright Directive, which aims at phasing out the levy system. Article 5(2)(b) states that when the remuneration ("fair compensation") for private copying is calculated "the application or non-application of technological measures" is taken into account. In a footnote (no. 35) of his lecture Tilman Lüde notes that
Although recital 35 of the Copyright Directive explains that this requires the national legislator to take account of payments that copyright holders have already received “in some other form”, Member States’ laws are unclear in this respect and could thus inadvertently stifle the uptake of alternative remuneration models such as DRM.
Lüde said that a change of article 5(2)(b) is amongst the policy options considered. One can only hope that the move towards DRM is not just driven by (online) business interests, but also incorporates consumer interests. At the moment consumers are confronted with the possibility of double payments (levies + paying controller DRM for making a private copy) and paying levies for content that cannot be copied due to DRM. It should be noted that using DRMs for remuneration may prove to be more privacy intrusive than a levy system, monitoring and registrating consumer behaviour. Privacy was one of the concerns in the German Personalsausweise case (1964), which propelled the introduction of the levy system in the first place (compare e.g. INDICARE Report, pp 68-69 - PDF).
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Thru Solv with some additional comments on the "important" role of collective rights organisations in licensing [Dutch]
Cross-posting with the INDICARE Blog

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