EFJ Comments on Digital Rights Management

EFJ Comments on Digital Rights Management (September 2004)

Short Report

The European Commission launched a consultation in order to get interested parties’ feedback on digital rights management (DRM), ie existing protection for digital content (journalistic works on digital format, online, on CD ROM) which are aimed at fighting against piracy. Such systems would include devices such as watermarks or encryption…

Various problems exist. First, DRMs are still at a very early stage and are not fully effective. More importantly, DRMs could also be used as an instrument for sole control of rights by publishers and producers (who could bypass collecting societies’ role in this respect), especially in countries where authors’ rights are directly transferred in the employment contract (UK, Ireland, the Netherlands).

In its response, the EFJ encourages initiatives taken at a EU level to fight against piracy and avoid double payment for users (levies on computers’ hard disk + payment of a fee to access digital content, for instance). It notes however that the level of DRMs developments remains at a very early stage and is not convinced that its use would serve creators’ interests unless coupled with a trusted third party in the role of collective management society or is at least coupled with authors’ rights legislation that does not block out collective representation.

The EFJ fears that DRMs in the sole hands of publishers and producers will make it even more difficult for journalists to reach agreements that guarantee them equitable remuneration for the use of their works, and allow them to set up conditions for further use of the journalistic works.

For more information, please contact: pamela.moriniere@ifj.org