May 20, 2009
DRM and Copyright Exceptions for Libraries: Empirical Assessment of Article 6(4) of the Information Society Directive
Article 6(4) of Information Society Directive made illegal the circumvention of DRM, while attempting, simultaneously, to ensure that the legal protection of DRM does not prevent certain entities (such as, libraries, the visually impaired, teachers, students and researchers) from carrying out certain acts of copying. Studies devoted to DRM under Article 6(4) and these copyright exceptions have noted, theoretically, its legal implications.
In Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment, Patrícia Akester (Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge) fills an existing gap by unveiling, through empirical lines of enquiry, (1) whether certain acts which are permitted by law are being adversely affected by the use of DRM and (2) whether technology can accommodate conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM - linking, thus, policy conclusions to empirical findings. The answers to these questions were studied in the context of the UK legislation implementing the Information Society Directive. Based on a series of interviews with key organisations and individuals, involved in the use of copyright material and the development and deployment of DRM, Akester provides a sober assessment of the current state of affairs.
Although DRM has not impacted on many acts permitted by law, certain permitted acts are being adversely affected by the use of DRM;
This is in spite of the existence of technological solutions (enabling partitioning and authentication of users) to accommodate those permitted acts (privileged exceptions);
Beneficiaries of privileged exceptions who have been prevented from carrying out those permitted acts (because of the employment of DRM) have not used the complaints mechanism set out in UK law;
Article 6(4) of the Information Society Directive put an onus on content owners to accommodate privileged exceptions voluntarily. Voluntary measures have emerged in the publishing field, but not all content owners are ready to act unless they are told to do so by regulatory authorities.
See Akseter's proposed solutions and recommendations starting on page 100 of her report. [JH]
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