French consumers: better informed about DRM, but still handcuffed
Paris, September 19th, 2014. Press release.
Following the Consumer law of March 17th, 2014, and the publication of its decree on September 17th, 2014, French consumers will be informed of the presence of DRM—the “digital handcuffs”. April welcomes this positive development but reminds us that true protection of consumer rights requires a pure and simple ban on DRM.
The French Consumer law of March 17th, 2014 [fr] dealt with the implementation of group action, but also the transposition of the 2011 European directive on consumer rights. This directive had timidly established minimal consumer information on DRM1. The bill, as initially proposed, had done away with consumer information on the presence of digital handcuffs. April had contributed to the debates; amendments relating to the information on the presence of DRM had been proposed, and unfortunately rejected. However, Benoît Hamon, then Deputy Minister for Social Economy and Consumer Affairs, had committed to ensuring that information on the presence of DRM and the restrictions it entails would be specified in a decree, following the adoption of Lionel Tardy's amendment n°83 [fr] (see also Next INpact's article [fr] on this amendment).
On September 17th, 2014, the Decree n° 2014-1061 [fr], which had been announced by Benoît Hamon, was published. It deals with the requirement for consumer information, both before and after contract signature, and with the right of withdrawal in specific cases (article 1. 2° e):
“Art. R. 111-1. - In order to comply with article L. 111-1 (4), the trader communicates the following information to the consumer:
e) Where applicable, any relevant interoperability of digital content with hardware and software that the trader is aware of or can reasonably be expected to have been aware of, as well as the functionality, including applicable technical protection measures, of digital content.
April acknowledges the publication of this decree, which Benoît Hamon had promised at the time. However, this decree only sets up minimal consumer information. A first step indeed, but there is some way to go to meet the provisions which had been proposed, for instance by Lionel Tardy in amendment n° CE102 [fr].
“The publication of this decree sets up a minimal basis for consumer information, which however is insufficient. Real protection of consumer rights involves a pure and simple ban on those handcuffs.” said Frédéric Couchet, April's executive director.
“The Digital bill which has been announced by the government will however be an opportunity to really move forward on this matter,” hopes Jeanne Tadeusz, April's public affairs officer. “DRMs keep hindering consumers, blocking interoperability, and restricting some legitimate uses of the digital works.”
A pioneer of Free Software in France since 1996, April is a major player in the democratisation of Free Software and open standards, and in their spread to the general public, professionals and institutions of the French-speaking world. In the digital era that is ours, it also aims to inform the public on the dangers of an exclusive appropriation of information and knowledge by private interests.
The organisation is a non-profit and it has over 4,000 members, who use or produce Free Software.
Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org +33 6 60 68 89 31
Jeanne Tadeusz, Public Affairs Officer, email@example.com +33 1 78 76 92 82
- 1. Thus, Article 5 of the directive has the following:
Information requirements for contracts other than distance or off-premises contracts
1. Before the consumer is bound by a contract other than a distance or an off-premises contract, or any corresponding offer, the trader shall provide the consumer with the following information in a clear and comprehensible manner, if that information is not already apparent from the context:
(g) where applicable, the functionality, including applicable technical protection measures, of digital content;
(h) where applicable, any relevant interoperability of digital content with hardware and software that the trader is aware of or can reasonably be expected to have been aware of.”