Julia Reda's Report on the Review of the Copyright Directive: toward a Right to Interoperate with DRMs?

Paris, January 28th, 2015, Press Release.

On January 20th, 2015, MEP Julia Reda submitted her report on the adaptation of the Copyright Directive to the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament (12 pages)1. This report is an important first step toward updating European regulations on copyright. In particular, the MEP proposes to implement a right to interoperate with DRM [fr].

Julia Reda advocates a rebalancing of European legislation in favour of the public's rights and the availability of works, now and in the future.

On the DRM issue, her report does not question their legal protection —which is imposed by various international treaties— but instead proposes to amend it in order, notably, to ensure effective application of exceptions and access to the public domain, which “should not be hindered by technological measures” (point 23 of the report2).

Moreover, by conditioning legal protection of the DRMs to the publication of their source code or interface specifications, she wishes to create an actual right to interoperate with the technological measures (point 24 of the report3). In order to be effective, this proposal must however be complemented: from a technical point of view, what must be made available for implementing interoperable solutions is all the information which is essential to interoperability, including the encryption keys; and from a legal point of view, the right to publish the source code and the technical documentation for any independent software which interoperates with a DRM must be secured.

In the report, interoperability is only mentioned in the context of DRM, but one must not overlook the restrictions imposed on reverse engineering, which currently is but an exception to Directive 2009/24/CE on the legal protection of computer programs4. April calls for ringfencing interoperability, as it is the only antidote to market segmentation, customer capture and programmed obsolescence of digital works.

“We welcome the intention of this report, which presents actual courses of action to reform copyright. However, those need to be strengthened and we have to watch their legal transposition carefully, said Frédéric Couchet, April's executive director.

This first draft of Julia's report may be amended by other MEPs in the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) until the end of February. April encourages MEPs to take its observations into account for amending the provisions on DRM.

For an analysis of the rest of the Reda report, please see the press releases by La Quadrature du Net Copyright Reform: The European Parliament Must Follow the Reda Report! and Open Forum Europe OFE welcomes the European Parliament draft report kicking off the EU Copyright debate, as well as the articles in Next INpact At the European Parliament, First Proposals to De-radicalise Copyright [fr] and Numerama Copyright: The Proposals of Pirate MEP Julia Reda [fr].

  • 1. Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (also called EUCD, European Union Copyright Directive)
  • 2. 23. Stresses that the effective exercise of exceptions or limitations, and access to content that is not subject to copyright or related rights protection, should not be hindered by technological measures;
  • 3. 24. Recommends making legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures conditional upon the publication of the source code or the interface specification, in order to secure the integrity of devices on which technological protections are employed and to ease interoperability; in particular, when the circumvention of technological measures is allowed, technological means to achieve such authorised circumvention must be available
  • 4. See April's response to the Public Consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules, March 2014.