Digital Rights Management workshop, Brussels

On 25th March 2003, the European Commission organised a workshop on digital rights management (DRM). This workshop followed a series of working groups organised by the different stakeholders ( users, technology companies, content producers and publishers, collective societies) and was aimed at developing and expanding the dialogue amongst stakeholders. The workshop was attended by about 100 participants, amongst which many right holders’ organisations based in Brussels.

Thierry Stoll, Deputy Director General of DG Internal Market said that there were doubts as to the efficiency and safety of DRMs and questioned by whom and to whom would DRMs benefit. He reckoned that all right holders should get their share of the benefits and that small right holders might be reluctant to cooperate when they do not know who will operate DRMs. Commissioner Liikanen (DG Information society) said that levies represented a temporary solution pending the introduction of DRM, which represented a better deal for right holders.

The results of the workshop were limited since stakeholders generally stuck to their position and did not reach any consensus. Collective societies said that DRMs were still at an early stage whereas technology companies denied it. Users repeated that they would not pay a double fee ( levies + DRMs) and right holders recalled that they would like to be the ones to decide on the use of DRMs.

The European Commission has finalised a Communication on rights' management which is now being discussed under the interservice consultation process. It should hopefully be available to the public before summer 2003.