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Brussels, 27 February 2002

Copyright: Commission holds workshop on Digital Rights Management to promote protection and distribution of digital content on the Internet

The promotion of open, flexible and interoperable Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS) is the subject of a workshop organised by the European Commission in Brussels on 28th February. Representatives of the content, information technology, and consumer electronics industries, as well as several user and consumer associations, will participate to set out their views on how to make DRMS acceptable to all market players and how to bring about co-operation between them. Erkki Liikanen, the Information Society Commissioner and Frits Bolkestein, the Internal Market Commissioner, will both speak at the event.

DRMS are technologies that describe and identify digital content protected by intellectual property rights, and enforce usage rules set by right-holders or prescribed by law for digital content. DRMs are thus an important complement to the legal framework.

In the EU the legal framework in which DRMs would be administered is set out in Directive 2001/29 on the harmonisation of copyright and related rights in the Information Society (see IP/01/528). Member States must implement the rules set out in the Directive into national law by December of this year.

Digital technologies have transformed the copyright environment and have given rise to a potentially huge market for content. With the arrival of new technologies and equipment such as personal mobile devices and Multiple Home Platforms (MHP) the user is presented with an increasingly wide choice of media for enjoying digital content, such as music or video. It is also now possible for individuals to produce their own digital content and to make an unlimited number of perfect copies for world-wide distribution over the Internet at little cost. At the same time, however, digitisation has also increased the risk of piracy with use of the same media to copy and distribute illegal perfect copies.

The Directive supports the use of DRMS by protecting technical measures and by requiring Member States to take into account the application or non-application of technological measures when providing for fair compensation in the context of the private use exception for which fair compensation is required.

The Directive also encourages interoperability and compatibility of different systems used in the protection of copyrighted material.

However, there are strongly divergent views among the different stakeholders on how to implement DRMS and on the requirements necessary to make them acceptable to rightholders and consumers. This divide is threatening the prospects for the rapid availability of user-friendly DRMS, which in turn could have serious consequences for the supply of attractive online content, services and applications over the Internet.

Mr Liikanen said, "content and creativity are the life-blood of the Information Society and the knowledge-based economy. All stake-holders should demonstrate good faith and commitment by getting together and undertaking a serious effort to iron out differences that may hold back the promotion and distribution of content over the internet. The Commission is ready to facilitate and give its backing to such a consensus-building process. We need to keep up the momentum. Delay would stifle innovation and waste a tremendous market opportunity".

Mr Bolkestein added "The digital environment provides us all with the means to enjoy the works of rightholders. We want to access, consume, listen to, watch and use these works for a variety of purposes. Technology can also be used to protect rightholders but they need to be convinced that digital rights management can be effective. I am confident that through dialogue with all interested parties we will be able to bring rights management into the 21st century".

The workshop will take place at the Charlemagne building in Brussels. Registration is between 9 and 9.45 a.m. The press is welcome to attend. Journalists who would like to attend this event should sign up no later than 27 February at 18.00 hrs CET by e-mail to:

A Commission Staff Working Paper on "Digital Rights: Background, Systems, Assessment" prepared for distribution at the workshop, is available on the Europa website:

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