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Mr Erkki Liikanen

Member of the European Commission, responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society

Towards a consensus on Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS)

Digital Rights Management workshop

Brussels, 28 February 2002

I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all and thank you for showing such enthusiasm and interest in participating in today's workshop. I would also like to thank the speakers, whose role it will be to kick-off what I am sure will be a lively and interesting debate.

Digital Rights Management Systems play a key role in the distribution of digital content.

More recently, Commission staff have drawn up a working paper on some of the main issues raised by DRMs. The document discusses among others the legal framework, the technology, business models, and significance of DRM's to consumers.

My colleague Frits Bolkestein and I are keen to promote the development and use of DRM systems. We have organised this workshop in order to give the stakeholders an opportunity to set out their views on how best to address these issues.

The critical questions are:

  • How do we create an open market for digital content?

  • In this market, how will the rights of all parties be secured?

  • What are the tools required to enable the required level playing field?

Content and creativity are the life-blood of the Information Society and the knowledge-based economy. As we move to broadband networks, we need to ensure that there are sufficient incentives to continue to produce and distribute multimedia content and services under appropriate conditions. Copyright protection has an essential role in this.

Where are we policy-wise?

eEurope 2002 should become eEurope 2005. The informal ministerial meeting convened by the Spanish Presidency supported strongly this initiative in Vitoria, Spain last week.

The first priority is to recognise the importance of content and applications, whether they are provided by commercial or public services, and ensure that they are available, not just through computer terminals, but also through mobile terminals, televisions and other innovations.

The second priority is eGovernment. Governments can make a huge difference by making far greater use of inter-active on-line facilities in areas such as eHealth and eLearning.

We need faster access technologies such as ADSL, cable modem, 3G, digital-TV, satellites, fibre optic and fixed wireless access, to provide the speed and geographical coverage for the new, improved services being developed.

That is why the third priority is broadband. It will be up to the market to roll out the future networks. But public authorities have a role to play. To make this as efficient as possible we need a coherent strategy. Broadband networks and rich, attractive content go hand-in-hand.

At the EU level, we must create favourable legal conditions. Here, I am convinced, the new telecoms framework will encourage broadband investment. National governments can also help by implementing legislation and various other ways.

And fourth, we need to tackle the issue of security. Over the past year, spamming has tripled and viruses have doubled. Here we have to balance our wish for an open and easy-to-use Internet with measures to protect it from gratuitous attacks and junk mail.

From a legal standpoint, the Copyright Directive constitutes a fundamental milestone. It provides the legal framework in which Digital Rights Management Systems will be administered.

You will hear more on these legal aspects from Frits Bolkestein and his collaborators in the course of day.

From a technological standpoint, the key challenge is to bring open, flexible, interoperable and easy-to-use DRMs to the marketplace. These technologies can play an important role in supporting the legal framework and in ensuring the efficient and lawful distribution of digital content to the user.

Openness and flexibility are essential in order to leave plenty of room for innovation and creativity in the fast-moving and dynamic digital environment. Consumers should not be locked into technological solutions. Stifling of experimentation and progress needs to be avoided.

Interoperability is essential to respond efficiently to the demands of the market and consumers. Common and open technological platforms will enhance interoperability and reduce operational costs.

The technologies are largely available today and further development is underway. But we need a shared vision about how content will be managed and distributed in the future and under what conditions.

Any technological solution should be based on a balance between the interests of authors, rightholders and consumers. This is a pre-requisite for robust market development.

DRM efforts should include the protection of individuals' privacy. If privacy and security concerns are not sufficiently addressed, DRMs may not be easily accepted by the market.

We should therefore set about an inclusive and open consensus-building process that will facilitate speedy implementation and genuine acceptability of DRMs for all actors.

The Commission is prepared to facilitate such a process and to support it. But it is up to you, the stakeholders, to take the lead.

There are many different interests to take into consideration. Good faith and commitment is needed from all sides to find common ground.

This workshop can be a starting point for such a consensus-building process. It might then be appropriate to take stock of progress in, say, six months' time. We need to keep up this momentum.

Thank you and I wish you a highly stimulating and constructive workshop.

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