Archive for the 'policy' Category

EUCD Best Practice Guide Released


We have just released our EUCD best practice guide. The report, sponsored by the Open Society Institute (OSI), provides a set of recommendations for transposing the EU Copyright Directive (EUCD) into the national copyright frameworks of accession states and candidate countries. The guide, which could also inform future law reform in existing member states and is related to stock-taking studies such as the Gowers Report (released yesterday) and the forthcoming official review of the EU copyright framework, is based on a peer-produced compilation and comparison of existing EUCD implementations across the EU.

The best practice guide takes a closer look at four clusters of legal issues typically associated with EUCD-implementation. First, in a cross-sectional manner, it provides recommendations regarding the implementation of the EUCD’s anti-circumvention provisions (i.e., legal protection of technological protection measures). Second, it suggests a series of principles in areas of copyright law that shape the ways in which we – as peers – can produce and distribute information. The third section deals with universal access issues, including teaching and research exceptions, exceptions for libraries, archives, and the like, and copyright exceptions for disabled people. Third, the document provides recommendations with regard to selected copyright provisions that have an impact on political and cultural participation.

Here is an overview of the recommendations we’ve made:

Anti-circumvention provisions

  • In order to avoid unintended consequences in general and spillover effects of anti-circumvention legislation in particular, (a) define the subject matter and scope of TPM as narrow as possible; (b) choose a liberal approach to exceptions and limitations and make sure that beneficiaries of exceptions can enjoy them; and (c) take a minimalist approach to sanctions and remedies for the violation of anti-circumvention provisions.
  • Provide a definition of the circumstances (“minimum threshold”) under which TPM are considered to be “effective”.
  • To the extent possible, limit the scope of prohibited circumvention-relevant conduct to situations where circumventions would lead to actual infringement of copyright.
  • Immediately establish a mechanism for the enforcement of copyright exceptions vis-à-vis TPM and in the absence of voluntary measures by right-holders. Provide for an easily accessible and effective enforcement mechanism.
  • Incorporate a private copying right vis-à-vis TPM analog to traditional private copying exceptions in order to foster access to information, knowledge, and entertainment.
  • Use discretion with regard to sanctions and penalties and adhere to the principle of proportionality. Consider limitations on criminal and civil liability for non-profit organizations such as libraries, archives, etc., flexible sanctions for innocent infringers, and limitations on sanctions for legitimate purposes such as research and teaching.

Peer collaboration & distribution

  • Provide for a broad private copying exception that is applicable to both analog/offline and digital/online works.
  • Use discretion with regard to sanctions and penalties imposed on illegal file-sharing (uploading) and adhere to the principle of proportionality. Consider limitations on criminal and civil liability for small-scale infringements.
  • Provide for a private copying exception that encompasses the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet, including from P2P file-sharing networks, regardless of the lawfulness of the master copy or the distribution platform.

Universal Access

  • Provide a broad teaching exception that not only covers materials for face-to-face use in the classroom of educational facilities, but also the use of works at home for studying purposes. The preparation and post-processing of courses at educational institutions should be included as well.
  • Implementations should not (further) limit the scope of the teaching exception as stipulated in the EUCD. Instead, provide for open definitions of the limitations on exempted uses for teaching purposes.
  • Transpose the quotation exception by allowing quotations in multimedia works with an educational purpose or within instructions and textbooks for educational use.
  • Provide for an exception that allows publicly accessible libraries and archives as well as documentation centers to make copies of entire works for specific purposes, without respect to whether these institutions are part of an educational or scientific institution or of a museum.
  • Explicitly allow the reproduction of works on any medium in both digital and analog format.
  • Allow the sharing of out-of-print copies among beneficiaries if certain requirements are met (out-of-print clause).
  • Explicitly regulate the question of traditional as well as advanced forms of electronic document delivery by privileged institutions such as public libraries in the national copyright act.
  • Permit electronic forms of delivery (e.g. in graphic file format) of individual copies of articles in periodicals and parts of published works to patrons for private study and research for non-commercial purposes, regardless whether the relevant material is available via an on-demand service or not.
  • Provide for a broad disability exception to both the rights to reproduction and communication to the public that might mention, but is not limited to, certain types of disabilities such as visual or hearing impairment.
  • Consider an exception or limitation for people with disabilities without requiring fair compensation.

Political & Cultural Participation

  • Provide for a current-event exception and prescribe the conditions under which the freedom of expression right trumps the exlusive author’s rights. Do not restrict the scope of the exception to traditional media, such as newspapers, television or radio.
  • The quotation right should allow diverse forms of quotations. It should encompass multimedia quotes as well as texts.
  • Allow private persons to disseminate public and political speeches over the internet.
  • Explicitly allow creative forms of political and cultural crticism. Use caricature, parody or pastiche as exemplary forms, but do not restrict the exception to these forms.

Download the full report for detailed discussion, references to member state implemenations, and case law examples.

How can Public Policy Encourage Innovation and Entrepreneurship?


The Rueschlikon Conference on Information Policy, chaired by Professor Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, just released its latest conference report on Innovative Entrepreneurship and Public Policy. The report, authored by Kenneth Cukier, includes recommendations for what public policy can do to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. The executive summary suggests five recommendations.

  • Entrepreneur: The Individual – Innovation starts with a “random walk” in “design space,” where ideas can be incubated and challenged. Investing in education is crucial, as is softening the consequences of failure.
  • Social Networks: The Group – The relationships among people, firms and nations help determine the degree of diversity they are exposed to, which influences inventiveness. Supporting the interactions across groups is essential.
  • Organizing R&D: Universities and Firms – A networked-model based on connections, collaboration, flat hierarchies, modularity and constant “re-writing” is required. This enables groups to respond successfully to discontinuities.
  • Creating Clusters: Geographic Areas – Places where finance, technical talent, legal, accounting and marketing support intermingle aids the innovation process. Yet it should ideally be technology-neutral, and not reliant on one technical domain.
  • Public Policy: The Role of Government (Municipal, Regional, National) – Reengineering society for a networked economy requires resources, patience and ceding control International cooperation with new stakeholders is imperative.

The full report with the title Hero with a Thousand Faces is available online.

FTC Hearing: DRM Interoperability


This morning, I had the pleasure and honour to speak – “as the European voice” – at the FTC hearing on “Protecting Consumers in the Next Tech-ade” (check out the official weblog for more information and summaries of the discussion.) I was asked to report about the legal and regulatory discussions on DRM in Europe and to focus on DRM interoperability in particular. The latter question is also part of an ongoing research collaboration between the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School and our St. Gallen Research Center for Information Law. The research project is aimed at exploring the interaction between interoperability and e-innovation, an important aspect that was only briefly mentioned at today’s hearing.
Here is the longer and slightly modified (links added) written version of my statement. For a more detailed discussion, check out the excellent paper “DRM Interoperability and Intellectual Property Policy in Europe” by Mikko Valimaki and Ville Oksanen.

Over the past few years, much of the legal/regulatory debate in Europe about DRM has focused on the legal protection of technological protection measures and its ramifications for the digital ecosystem, because EU member states have faced the challenge to transpose the rather vague EU Copyright Directive into their national laws and comply with the relevant anti-circumvention provisions of the WIPO Internet Treaties.

Introducing and harmonizing anti-circumvention laws across Europe has been a long and an enormously controversial process. As far as DRM is concerned, three topics in particular have caused heated controversies:

  • DRM and its legal protection vis-à-vis traditional limitations on copyright such as the “right” (or privilege) to make copies for private purpose;
  • DRM and “fair compensation”;
  • DRM and interoperability.

Given our panel’s topic, please let me address the interoperability issue in some greater detail – a topic that has gained much attention in the context of iTunes’ penetration of the European market, esp. in France.

At the European level, though, no coherent DRM interoperability framework exists, although DRM interoperability has been identified as an emerging issue by the European Commission, which has established – among other things – a multi-stakeholder High Level Group on DRM that has also addressed DRM interoperability issues.

The lack of specific and EU-wide DRM interoperability provisions leaves us with three areas of law that address this issue more generally, both at the EU level as well as the level of EU member states. The areas are: copyright law, competition law, and consumer protection law.

Copyright Law

The EU Copyright Directive, mandating the legal protection of DRM systems, does not set forth rules on DRM interoperability. Recital 54 only mentions that DRM interoperability is something member states should encourage, but does not provide further guidance and seems to trust in the market forces. However, one might argue that the anti-circumvention framework itself allows the design of interoperable systems – e.g. a music player able to play songs encoded in different DRM standards – by outlawing only trafficking in such circumvention devices that are (inter alia) primarily designed and marketed for circumvention of effective TPM. Along these lines, at least one Italian Court has ruled – in one of the Bolzano rulings – that the use of modified chips aimed at restoring the full functionality of a Sony PlayStation (incl. its ability to read all discs from all markets despite region coding) is not illegal under the EUCD’s anti-circumvention provisions.

At the EU member state level, France has taken a much more proactive approach to DRM interoperability. A draft of the revised copyright law (implementing the EUCD) introduced an obligation of DRM providers to disclose interoperability information upon requests without being compensated. This “lex iTunes” has triggered strong reactions by the entertainment industry, and the final version of the law softened up the original proposal. Current French law states that a regulatory authority mediates interoperability requests on a case-by-case basis. Under this regime, too, DRM providers can be forced (under certain conditions) to disclose interoperability information on non-discriminatory terms, but they now have the right to reasonable compensation in return.

Competition Law

The baseline is: Competition law in Europe may become relevant in cases where a company with a dominant market position refuses to license its DRM standard to its competitors. However, to date, there exists no case law at the EU level where competition law has been applied to the DRM interoperability problem. But there are important cases (IMS Health and Magill, but also the anti-trust actions against Microsoft) illustrating how competition law — at least in exceptional circumstances — can give the need for interoperability more weight than the IP claims by dominant players. In France, Virgin Media tried to use competition law as an instrument to enforce access to iTunes FairPlay system. The French competition authority, however, has ruled in favour of iTunes, partly because it considered the market for probable music players to be sufficiently competitive (click here for more details).

Consumer Protection

From a consumer protection law perspective, three issues seem particularly noteworthy. First, the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman has been very critical about Apple’s iTMS interoperability policy in response to a complaint by the consumer council. The Ombudsman argues that iTMS is using DRM and corresponding terms of services to lock its consumers into Apple’s proprietary systems.

Second, a French court fined EMI Music France for selling CDs with DRM protection schemes that would not play on car radios and computers (check here and here). EMI violated consumer protection law because it did not appropriately inform consumers about these restrictions. The court obliged EMI to label its CDs with the text: “Attention – cannot be listened on all players or car radios”.

Third, a recent proposal by the European Consumers’ Organisation proposes to include DRM in the unfair contract directive. The idea behind it is that consumer protection authorities should also be able to intervene against unfair consumer contract terms if the terms are “code-” rather than “law-based”.

EU Copyright Directive: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead (Report from WOS4, Berlin)


I’m currently in Berlin, attending Wizards-of-OS 4.0, a terrific conference organized by Volker Grassmuck and this team. Earlier the week, Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, and Hal Varian – to name just a few – had been presenting. Yesterday, I had the pleasure to chair a panel on the EU Copyright Directive. In essence, the session sought to analyze and evaluate the current EU copyright landscape as shaped in important ways by the EUCD (among other directives). On the panel were Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law at the Univ. of Amsterdam; Tilman Lueder, Head of Unit “Copyright and knowledge-based economy”, DG Internal Markets, European Commission; Cornelia Kutterer, Senior Legal Advisor BEUC; and Maja Bogataj, Director of the Intellectual Property Institute, Slovenia.

The four presentations, each rich in substance, touched upon a broad variety of important issues and it is almost impossible to summarize the panel. However, I think there were at least three recurring themes where some sort of consensus among the panelists emerged.

Harmonization of copyright law comes at significant cost and leads to a race to the top as far as the protection of copyright holders’ interests are concerned.

Bernt Hugenholtz explained in quite some detail, based on a recent (still confidential) report he wrote for the European Commission, why we should be very skeptical about copyright harmonization. He argued, in essence, that the EU step-by-step-harmonization efforts have imposed a huge burden on both the EU legislative machinery as well as on national lawmakers who, in the past 15 years or so, have had continuously to transpose EU copyright directives into their national laws. More fundamentally, he raised the question whether harmonization, at all, can be the right tool – vis-à-vis enormously time-consuming legislative processes (the work on the EUCD goes back to 1996) – in a quicksilver technological environment. The strongest argument against harmonization, though, is the observation that harmonization has created significant asymmetries and imbalances: It significantly distorted the traditional balance between the interests of copyright holders on the one and the interests of users and the public at large on the other hand in favor of copyright holders. Bernt also argued that harmonization (vis-à-vis the principle of territoriality of copyright law) has produced negative effects on the Internal Market. In the recommendation-part of his speech, he proposed to restrain from future harmonization in this area. Rather, he suggested the use of soft law and, in the long run, of the creation of a unified, truly European Copyright Law.

The EUCD has created significant asymmetries and imbalances that need to be fixed.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Cornelia Kutterer in particular has made it very clear in what ways and areas the EUCD has favored copyright holder’s interest over user’s interest. Much of the discussion focused on Art. 5 EUCD, which sets forth (largely voluntary) exceptions and limitations, and on the legal protection of technological protection measures. In the latter context, Cornelia addressed issues such as interoperability and (lack of) transparency. From a very different perspective, Tilman Lueder was questioning whether the EUCD has struck the right balance between exclusive rights and fair compensation, and whether compensation models will prevail in the age of digital distribution (vis-à-vis DRM.)

The solution to some of the flaws of the EUCD might be found in other areas of law such as competition law or consumer protection law.

With regard to potential answers to the problems created, in part, by the EUCD, Cornelia Kutterer – as well as previously Tilman Lueder to some extent – proposed to consider the use of consumer protection laws and competition law to rebalance interests. She suggested, for instance, to conceptualize DRM as “technical terms” in analogy to contractual terms, and to extend the scope of the Unfair Contract Terms Directive in a way that it includes such technical terms (“code”) too. Another issue to be dealt with in the consumer protection acquis is EU-wide labeling requirements for DRM.

Later this morning, we will ask how accession and candidate countries can learn from these (largely: bad) experiences surrounding the EUCD in particular and EU copyright harmonization in general. At a workshop sponsored by the Soros Foundation, we will talk in greater detail about the pitfalls of EUCD implementation (what Maja Bogataj yesterday has described as “cut-translate-paste”-legislation). In this context, we will also explore as to what extent best practices of implementation can be identified that might be helpful to future EU member states (and, probably, in the context of law reform projects.) We had a first cut at what shall become a EUCD best practice guide, check it out here. It’s an initial and uncompleted draft and very much research in progress, so feedback and contributions are most welcome and much appreciated.

Testifying on Swiss DRM-Protection Bill


Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to provide expert testimony before the Legal Affairs Committee of the Swiss Council of States (roughly equivalent to the U.S. Senate) regarding Switzerland’s implementation of the WIPO Internet Treaties and revision of the copyright act, respectively. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the bill is hotly debated among different stakeholders, and the committee members confirmed that they have received many letters and e-mails in the run-up to the hearing.Right after a presentation by Apple’s iTMS Switzerland Managing Director, I testified about alternative business models for the distribution of digital content that don’t (primarily) rely on DRM protection. Of course, I was also talking about the Berkman Center’s Digital Media Exchange Project. After the presentations, the committee members asked a series of excellent questions about technological, economic, and legal aspects of DRM. Since the debates are traditionally confidential, I can’t go into details here. Instead, I would like to point to some of the characteristics of the bill that I find particularly commendable:

  • The bill only prohibits the circumvention of effective technological protection measures aimed at protecting copyrighted materials.
  • The bill includes a definition of the effectiveness criterion.
  • The ban cannot be enforced against individuals who circumvent TPMs in order to make use of the work in a way that is traditionally permitted by the copyright act (e.g. making a private copy).
  • In contrast to the EUCD, all the exceptions and limitations also apply to on-demand services.
  • Although the bill creates civil and criminal liability, it adheres to the principle of proportionality with regard to sanctions and penalties. In the context of criminal sanctions in the case of circumvention of TPMs, intent (“Absicht”) is required.

On the other hand, several areas of concern remain (see here and here for background information):

  • It’s unclear as to what extent the beneficiaries of a copyright exception can make use of it vis-a-vis TPM. An earlier draft created an innovative and powerful enforcement mechanism (see former draft art. 39b and art. 62, translated here), but the revised draft before the parliament now proposes the establishment of an oversight body (“Beobachtungsstelle”) that facilitates discussion between the stakeholders and might have the power, upon authorization by the Swiss Federal Council, to intervene (e.g. by way of recommendations) in the case of DRM misuse if the “public interest” would require it.
  • The encryption exception has been mentioned in materials, but not in the bill itself.
  • The ban of trafficking in circumvention devices is absolute.
  • The bill doesn’t address transparency and interoperability issues – although I agree that the copyright act is not the best place to deal with these issues.

Besides these TPM-related issues, it is noteworthy that downloading files from P2P services remains legal (private copying exception) under the current version of the bill. In this context, one might also want to mention that the bill doesn’t seem to build on the (contested) assumption that DRM and anti-circumvention laws will reduce piracy. Here as in all other areas, it will be interesting to observe – given the lobbying efforts by the copyright industry – how the draft legislation further evolves once it is debated in public by our national law-makers.

EUCD Implementation Guide: Call for Participation


A team of experts is currently working on a resource site and best practice report on the implementation of the EU Copyright Directive (EUCD). A draft version of the best practice guide will be presented and discussed at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin (with wonderful speakers, BTW, including Hal Varian, Claudio Prado, Larry Lessig and Yochai Benkler) and further explored at the WOS4 EUCD workshop on September 17th. A final report – based on the Berlin feedback – will be released in November.The guide is based on a peer-produced collection of particularly good (or bad!) examples of EUCD implementations in various
EU member states (and beyond). It takes a closer look at four important clusters of legal issues typically associated with EUCD-implementation. First, in a cross-sectional manner, it provides recommendations regarding the implementation of the EUCD’s anti-circumvention provisions (i.e., legal protection of technological protection measures). Second, it suggests a series of principles in areas of copyright law that shape the ways in which we – as peers – can produce and distribute information. The third section deals with universal access issues, including teaching and research exceptions, exceptions for libraries, archives, and the like, and copyright exceptions for disabled people. Third, the document provides recommendations with regard to selected copyright provisions that have an impact on political and cultural participation.
Together with the St. Gallen team, Ian Brown, Volker Grassmuck, and other colleagues, I have started working on the best practice guide, taking a first cut at TPM on the one hand and teaching exceptions on the other. Much more needs to be done, though, so please contact Ian Brown (I.Brown [at] or me (ugasser [at] if you would like to contribute to the country reports and/or the best practice guide.

New Berkman Report on Educational Use of Works in the Digital Age


As part of the Digital Media Project, Berkman Faculty Director Terry Fisher and Berkman Fellow Bill McGeveran just released a terrific study entitled “The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age”, exploring whether innovative educational uses of digital technology – ranging from DVDs in the classroom to online resources such as Wikipedia – are hampered by copyright restrictions. Here’s the abstract:

This foundational white paper reports on a year-long study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, examining the relationship between copyright law and education. In particular, we wanted to explore whether innovative educational uses of digital technology were hampered by the restrictions of copyright. We found that provisions of copyright law concerning the educational use of copyrighted material, as well as the business and institutional structures shaped by that law, are among the most important obstacles to realizing the potential of digital technology in education.

The paper builds on four detailed case studies of initiatives that have encountered such obstacles. Each of these initiatives is moving forward, but only by fighting against a copyright-related system that instead should be helping educators accomplish their goals. The four case studies are:

  • A plan to use social networking software to help new social studies teachers interact and share classroom resources, which confronts copyright problems when teachers incorporate third-party content into their materials;
  • The need of film studies professors to bypass encryption on DVDs – likely in violation of federal law – in order to show selected film clips to their students;
  • An effort to make a digital database of hard-to-find but important American music available on college campuses, which encountered massive obstacles in the rights clearance process;
  • The shortcomings of special statutory provisions intended to benefit public broadcasters, but limited to over-the-air broadcast so that they have become nearly irrelevant as the need to distribute content on multiple digital platforms increases.

Drawing on these case studies, other research, and comments made by a cross-section of scholars, lawyers, librarians, and educators who participated in two day-long workshops organized as part of the project, the following emerged as the most significant copyright-related obstacles to educational uses of content:

  • Unclear or inadequate copyright law relating to crucial provisions such as fair use and educational use;
  • Extensive adoption of “digital rights management” technology to lock up content;
  • Practical difficulties obtaining rights to use content when licenses are necessary;
  • Undue caution by gatekeepers such as publishers or educational administrators.

While the primary task of the foundational white paper was to identify these obstacles, the paper concludes with some discussion of paths toward reform that might improve the situation. It suggests that certain types of legal reform, technological improvements in the rights clearance process, educator agreement on best practices, and increased use of open access distribution would help overcome the obstacles we identified.

My colleagues Silke Ernst und Daniel Haeusermann contributed a comparative legal analysis to the latest Berkman report.

YJoLT-Paper on Search Engine Regulation


The Yale Journal of Law and Technology just published my article on search engine regulation. Here’s the extended abstract:

The use of search engines has become almost as important as e-mail as a primary online activity. Arguably, search engines are among the most important gatekeepers in today’s digitally networked environment. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the evolution of search technology and the diffusion of search engines have been accompanied by a series of conflicts among stakeholders such as search operators, content creators, consumers/users, activists, and governments. This paper outlines the history of the technological evolution of search engines and explores the responses of the U.S. legal system to the search engine phenomenon in terms of both litigation and legislative action. The analysis reveals an emerging “law of search engines.” As the various conflicts over online search intensify, heterogeneous policy debates have arisen concerning what forms this emerging law should ultimately take. This paper offers a typology of the respective policy debates, sets out a number of challenges facing policy-makers in formulating search engine regulation, and concludes by offering a series of normative principles which should guide policy-makers in this endeavor.

As always, comments are welcome.

In the same volume, see also Eric Goldman‘s Search Engine Bias and the Demise of Search Engine Utopianism.

New OECD Reports on Digital Media Policy


Two new documents by OECD on digital media policy. The first report is the official summary of the OECD – Italy MIT Conference on the Future Digital Economy: Digital Content, Access and Distribution (see Terry Fisher’s main conclusions and the interesting policy items at the end – monopoly of search engines, DRM, user-created content).

The second report is an OECD study on Digital Broadband Content: Digital Content Strategies and Policies. As complement to the above conference, this OECD study identifies and discusses six groups of business and public policy issues and illustrates these with existing and potential OECD Digital Content Strategies and Policies.

Excellent DADVSI Backgrounder & Update


Jean-Baptiste Soufron writes:

The new french copyright law is just about to be studied at the High House of Parliament. Its name is Droit d’Auteur et Droits Voisin dans la Société de l’Information (DADVSI) which means Authors Rights and Neighboring Rights within Information Society, and its content is heavily debated over the Internet. Given the high number of questions I get on this topic, I thought a short explanation of the whole thing might be an interesting piece for english speaking readers.

Read more. (Thanks, Jean-Baptiste!)

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