There's nearly a 10 year gap between the Copyright Directive of 2001 and the Digital Economy Bill currently at the Committee Stage in the House of Lords. So it's interesting to see how things are moving on the DRM front.
The focus of the Copyright Directive was to ensure that Member States' laws contained adequate legal protection against circumvention of technical protection measures and against the removal of rights management information.
This is understandable. The legislation envisaged a new "electronic environment" in which access and use of copyright works was largely controlled by encryption and similar technological protection measures ("TPMs"). It did not anticipate a world of instant, search driven, 'on the fly' aggregation and distribution of copyright materials without such technological controls.
True, TPMs will certainly continue to play in important role for certain works and online services. However, in today's world driven by search, social media and the citizen/consumer, a lot of materials are distributed free of TPMs. So what's really important in this environment is being able to attach legally effective permissions which search engines, aggregators and other machine driven users 'read' when gathering online materials . Clearing rights and obtaining permissions by email, fax, phone just doesn't work in the 21st century.
That's where the Digital Economy Bill comes in. Amendment 292B would make it clear that where permissions or consents are expressed in machine readable formats (e.g. XML), the search engine, aggregator or other person who is operating the automated process is treated as having notice of those permissions provided certain conditions are met - see (3) in the proposed new section 296ZH to the Copyright Act which appears in the Amendment.
If we want to ensure the continuing availability of copyright content on the networks, we have to put in place the legal frameworks that ensures that permissions can be attached to works in a legally effective way. The Amendment doesn't expand the scope of copyright nor restrict what can be done under exceptions to copyright.
So I hope this Amendment finds the legislative light of day. Let's see.
Have a good week,