[Fsfe-ie] DRM letter (quick reply, deadline today)

Ciaran O'Riordan coriordan at compsoc.com
Wed Sep 15 17:49:58 CEST 2004

The deadline is today, presumably close of business.  It's 17h49 here in
Brussels, so a reply in the next hour would be best.  Can another committee
member ok the sending of this asap (plus any fixes or improvements that come
in the next hour)?

Note: There's a gap in my knowledge about what exactly they take "DRM" to
mean, but I don't think the gap is fundamental.

Nitpicking allowed, spelling included.


Dear recipient,

Regarding DRM, Irish Free Software Organisation (IFSO) is concerned that
recent EU Directives have given far too much power to content owners and
distributors, and that our representatives are not able to understand the
implications of these Directives at current pace at which they're being

Copyright law used to prohibit the public from certain acts without a
license, non-prohibited acts were deemed "fair dealing".  With DRM
restricted software system, the public can be blocked from making use of
fair dealing, and the law protects the content owners ability to do this.
In this way, DRM allows technology and to trump law.

When only one company is permitted to make software that is authorised to
display a work, DRM can also be used to secure legal monopoly status.  A
false, cartel-like competition may exist within the oligarchy of technology
Mega Companies (few or none of which are European), but real competition -
the sort that benefits consumers and new entrants to the market - will not

The added coplexity of getting permission for what used to be fair dealing
will also slow commerce and technical progress.  Adding legal encumbrances
to product development in the EU will push more jobs toward the low cost
economies.  Some DRM advocates say that legal protection of DRM is required
to prevent widespread crime, but DRM systems can already be implemented
without legal protection.  Legal protection allows companies to shift the
responsibility and cost of enforcement from themselves to the national

The market dangers of legal protection for DRM may not be visable today
since DRM restricted content and software systems are not yet ubiquitous,
but as books, communication, education, and communication transition to
digital form, a complex entanglement of law and technology will be hard to

In the recent batch of technology related Directives, IFSO has been
repeatedly disappointed with the bias toward aiding the wealthy corporations
at the expense of European consumers and enterprises.  Even when our MEPs or
Council members push for an amendment at our request, the final wording of
the amendent is usually altered so that it looks similar but it's effect is
null.  Given that the vast majority of the wealthy companies recieving the
aid are not European, and given that many MEPs have expressed sympathy and a
lack of understanding of the real world implications of the directives, IFSO
requests the legislative procedure for technical Directives be audited to
find where the wealthy companies are gaining almost complete control, and
where European consumers and enterprises of all sizes could have more input
to produce balanced, productive Directives.

Yours very sincerely,

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