Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

"Moving towards Consensus on Digital Rights Management" Workshop on Digital Rights Management Brussels, 25 March 2003


Mr Erkki Liikanen Member of the European Commission, responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society "Moving towards Consensus on Digital Rights Management" Workshop on Digital Rights Management Brussels, 25 March 2003

DN: SPEECH/03/163 Date: 31/03/2003



Mr Erkki Liikanen

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

"Moving towards Consensus on Digital Rights Management"

Workshop on Digital Rights Management

Brussels, 25 March 2003

I would like to warmly welcome you all and thank you for having shown such a high interest in participating in today's workshop.

The purpose of the meeting today is to take stock of the progress made over the last year and to discuss how to take this dialogue forward.

Digital technologies have transformed the copyright environment and have given rise to a potentially huge market for content. The advent of broadband networks emphasises the importance of ensuring that digital content is available under the appropriate conditions, which meet the interests of both right-holders and users.

The Copyright Directive supports the use of DRMS by protecting technical measures. It also requires Member States to take them into account when providing for fair compensation in the context of the private use exception.

The European Commission is playing a facilitating role aimed at encouraging the different stakeholders to find common ground in DRM issues. To this end, a Commission Staff Working Paper on DRMS has been published and a group of stakeholders were invited to kick off a dialogue at the first DRM Workshop a year ago.

Between July and November 2002, four working groups met to focus on the views of the main stakeholder groups. These consisted of users, technology companies, content producers and publishers and collective management societies. These working groups were successful on at least three accounts:

They brought attention to the concerns and to needs of each interest group thus preparing the ground for identifying areas of potential consensus;

They enabled participants to identify the role of DRMS viewed from the perspective of each group, and to assess the current "state of the art";

They created a better understanding between all participants of the issues and different positions.

This has helped the Commission to more accurately identify areas of potential agreement as well as the outstanding obstacles. The Commission has gained valuable insights into the current state of play in terms of the technology and business models.

We have been encouraged by the positive and constructive attitude that has developed in the Working Groups. This is a strategically important area, and the issues at stake are sometimes contentious. But we have received encouraging feedback from the interested parties.

Digital content is the cornerstone in the Information Society. As we seek to encourage the roll-out of broadband networks, the incentives and the setting up of appropriate conditions for the creation, distribution and use of digital content is crucial.

Digital Right Management technologies can encourage content producers to make their content available and thus entice users to take-up broadband. Attention must be given to users' and consumers' rights and needs. Use of DRM should not lead to losing these rights.

Counterfeiting and piracy in physical goods such as CDs are a growing concern to the music and film industries. It has a negative impact on economic activities in the sectors that are particularly sensitive to the production and distribution of substitute goods.

There is a need to find effective but proportionate measures to fight piracy. Unfortunately eradicating it completely, without affecting fundamental rights, such as privacy and protection of personal data, may be difficult.

Consumer education and using DRMS platforms backed up by effective legal enforcement instruments provide a way forward.

On all these issues there has been progress over the past year.


Recently, the Commission issued a proposal for a Directive on IPR Enforcement. It seeks to approximate enforcement measures and to ensure that the most effective measures are available throughout the European Union. We will hear more about this from Mr Thierry Stoll from Directorate General Internal Market.

New DRMS Platforms and business models

Lawful customers, so far in the majority, have to be enticed with attractive business models.

The emerging communication and networking technologies can be used to develop new business models to offer customers on-line products and services. The right business models backed up by flexible and effective DRMS platforms can be the rightholders' best weapon against piracy.

There is a lot of potential for emerging Internet-related services in this area, both in terms of commercial opportunities and in terms of user satisfaction. DRMS could open the way to a killer application for the creation of a mass e-commerce market and the widespread take- up of broadband.

Consumer education

We appreciate industry efforts to focus on consumer education and raising awareness. Initiatives like the Digital Download Day are a very positive step and could be developed further across Europe and with even more publicity. There could be a role also for public authorities, at EU and Member State level.


Another area where there have been positive developments over the past year is in the field of standardisation. A number of standards for the identification of digital works (or assets) and the description of their associated rights exist already.

However, there is still a long way to go. An agreed definition of DRM is missing. And we still need to figure out how to ensure interoperability between technical solutions, as suggested in the Copyright Directive.

We believe that open standards introduced at the right time with the right consensus can be beneficial for all stakeholders. Open standards facilitate market entry for new solution providers and, properly implemented, can lead to an increase in customer choice.

Openness and flexibility are essential in order to leave room for innovation and creativity in the 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.

In this respect, a study commissioned by DG Enterprise to the European Standardisation Body CEN/ISSS is about to be finalised and is a first step. It is essential that we keep the dialogue open. The Commission will continue its facilitation role in this area.

A lot remains to be done. Open, flexible and interoperable DRMS are far from being widely available.

The question of the role of public authorities with respect to DRMS standardisation remains open. We believe that legislation in this area should be a very last resort. Market forces must demonstrate the commitment to devise solutions acceptable to all stakeholders. Getting the timing right is also essential for success. A future legacy of incompatible technical specifications is in nobody's interest, least of all of consumers.


Since DRMS enable direct transactions between right holders and users of copyright protected content, there is a need to clarify the conditions under which levies can be adapted.

It would be helpful to introduce more transparency and flexibility in the methods used to calculate and adapt levy amounts to market conditions. Levies should be seen as a temporary solution, pending better alternatives in the form of DRMS. This is in the long-term interests of the Information Society and eEurope. DRMS are a better deal for right-holders than levies.

In this context, we would be interested in investigating the feasibility of developing a database that provides accurate data on the situation in each of the Member States in terms of levies, sales revenues, and the impact of DRMS-based sales. In the interim, any data that could be made available to the Commission by industry and Member States would be extremely useful.

Looking Ahead

The Commission is prepared to continue to play the role of a facilitator. However, we now need to move into a new and more difficult phase of this facilitation process.

As already explained, the first phase has served to bring all the issues and requirements out into the open. Now we face the most challenging part: developing the common ground the real consensus- building.

There are however many different interests to take into consideration. We need strong commitment from all sides to find common ground. It is up to you today to indicate to the Commission your commitment to overcome this challenge together. I hope you will do this here today.

One possibility to envisage a more formal framework, could be a Memorandum of Understanding, backed by the highest levels of the companies involved.

Of course this possibility is only of significance if major players are interested and committed.

This is food for thought, but we would welcome your views on these suggestions.

Thank you and I would like to wish you a very successful workshop and most fruitful discussions.