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Old 02-09-2014, 10:29 AM   #1
pdurrant
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EU Court of Justice on DRM circumvention

From TechDirt.

In a case brought by Nintendo, the EUCJ has ruled that the European Directive on the Harmonisation of copyright "is designed only to protect the copyright holder against acts which require his authorisation" and "that the legal protection covers only the technological measures intended to prevent or eliminate unauthorised acts of reproduction, communication, public offer or distribution, for which authorisation from the copyrightholder is required. That legal protection must respect the principle of proportionality without prohibiting devices or activities which have a commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent the technical protection for unlawful purposes." (bold in the original)

In short, circumventing DRM might be legal if it is not done to infringe the copyright holder's copyright. And sale/distribution of DRM circumvention tools might be legal so long as they are mainly used for purposes which do not infringe copyright.

The full ruling (in English) can be read here. Other European Languages are available.

NB I am not a lawyer. Do not rely on this message for legal advice!

Last edited by pdurrant; 02-10-2014 at 10:58 AM. Reason: typos, disclaimer
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:59 AM   #2
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Sounds almost too like common sense...
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by simond View Post
Sounds almost too like common sense...
Which means that would never happen in the U.S.
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:14 PM   #4
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That's an important ruling, Paul, and one that I'm sure we all welcome. Of course, it all depends on the details and how this plays out, but I'm encouraged. Some common sense seems to be taking hold.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:08 PM   #5
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This is good news, now the next step is to bring that to the US.

But I suppose this means The Tools can be distributed legally from England, so it is now safe to publicly work on and distribute them? If the Apprentice doesn't live in Europe (??) someone else can still take over?
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:25 PM   #6
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Essentially it says you can circumvent DRM for personal use. As long as you don't redistribute the resulting file you are safe.
Effectively, DRM'ed = DRM-free for ethical friends of Alf.

That would be strike 2 for vendors of encryption DRM on digital sales, no?
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:33 PM   #7
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Great news - a common sense ruling.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:13 PM   #8
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This is very interesting news.

Does the decision have general application on DRM matters across the EU, or is it case specific and only apply to Nintendo.

So, can the case be referred to by courts in other jurisdictions both within the EU and in Europe generally.

Maybe too detailed a question.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:28 PM   #9
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Not only common sense, seems to make it easier for free markets to operate.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:30 PM   #10
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That is really good news. A victory for consumers.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:11 AM   #11
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It may take quite a while before this turns into national regulations, though. There was also an EU Court directive that said that customers are permitted to resell digitally purchased video games and that the vendor must provide the means for doing so (e.g. the ability to transfer the ownership). It's been almost two years and this still hasn't actually led to any changes or results.
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:10 AM   #12
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:27 AM   #13
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That ruling is common sense, but also exposes how unnecessary it is to prohibit breaking DRM separately from infringing copyright.

If you break DRM for a non-infringing use, so what? The creator isn't affected (beyond cases where they would like to sell multiple copies in different file formats) in that case. Where someone breaks DRM to infringe copyright, then they've infringed copyright, which already allows the affected copyrightholder legal remedies.
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:33 AM   #14
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So if I understand it right if you break the DRM on a book you have bought in order to store it on media or convert it for your own use on a different reader platform i.e. epub to kindle or vice versa as an example you're in the clear, but if a person breaks it and then puts the book up as a torrent file for example then it's illegal. Does indeed sound like common sense and what many here at MR have said should be the law of the land all along.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:10 PM   #15
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I think you are reading too much into this. What "significant commercial purpose or use" do DRM removal tools have?
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