The Campaign for Digital Rights was founded by a group of programmers, IT
consultants, businessmen and others who were outraged by the arrest of Dmitry
Sklyarov. Our initial goal was to arrange protests in support of Dmitry;
shortly after our first website and the mailing lists were established we
discovered that the EUCD was on its way, and decided that we need to start a
campaign to have it revised, and the Campaign for Digital Rights was born.
Active members of the campaign come from all walks of life; naturally many
of us work in academia and the IT industry (programmers, consultants,
sysadmins, directors of IT companies, etc.) but membership is open to all,
since the EUCD potentially affects anyone who reads, watches films, listens to
music or uses computers. You will find journalists, teachers, authors,
musicians, businessmen, lawyers and representatives of many other professions
on the mailing list.
Our contacts page has contact
details for general and press enquiries, suggestions about the website, etc.
No! The Campaign is very loosely structured, and of course the views of its
members vary; some members are relatively moderate, others relatively extreme,
to use loaded terms. We don't try to enforce a particular viewpoint, and the
views which we present here are those on which a rough consensus exists.
Have a look at the
mailing list archives for a flavour of what we argue about, and what we
File sharing will become easier, as technology improves. But so
will copyright holders' ability to give their customers cheap easy
access to their wares, e.g. downloading an album by pressing
a single button, which initiates the download and automatically
charges the customer a modest amount, say £1.
Note that is
considerably less than what people pay now for music. The reduction
in price is due to a reduction in production cost - there are no
lorries moving pieces of plastic around, no bricks-and-mortar shops
to sell the pieces of plastic in (to say nothing of the benefit
to the environment). And the lower price will
encourage more sales, since people will be happier to pay £1 to try
some music they've not heard before, than £15.
That's the line the content distribution industry want to push. But they've
cried wolf many times before. Remember
"home taping is killing music"? They tried to stop VCRs
Even if unauthorised copying became ubiquitous and nobody paid
for legal copies of content, it wouldn't stop the delivery of
most content. Films make money from cinema audiences, merchandise
and TV showing. TV programs are paid for by by advertising,
and the licence fee (in the UK),
musicians get paid for live performances and
merchandise, book authors mostly don't earn a living wage for it
now (and therefore must be writing books for other reasons) and
could be compensated by an extension of the existing scheme where
they are paid for library borrowings of their books.
If we introduce laws like the DMCA, the Internet will become
something like a police state, with the content industry becoming
judge, jury and executioner for your behaviour in the electronic
world. Think that's far-fetched? So did Amita Guha until
happened to her.
They've been winning so far, because they've got lots of money
and therefore access to politicians.
However, everyone reads books or listens to music or watches films and TV
programs. A DMCA-like copyright law would harm everyone, except employees
of the content distribution industry, who are maybe 1% of the
electorate. It thus has the potential to be less popular than the
Poll Tax, with similar effects on the careers of those introducing
it. This is an argument politicians up for re-election are likely
to take very seriously indeed, if we get enough support.
"Piracy" means the copying of works without the permission of the rights
holders and outside the scope of "fair use" rights. We're not in favour of
In general, the CDR believes in a fair system of copyright which strikes
a balance between the rights of authors and the rights of the public at large.
That certainly doesn't include allowing large-scale unauthorised copying.
(We don't much hold with armed robbery on the high seas, either.)
Like many of the new communications technologies brought by the internet,
peer-to-peer file sharing can be used for copyright infringement or for the
legitimate distribution of works at near zero cost. Asking whether the
technology is bad is like asking whether email is bad because people can send
you rude messages; what matters is not the technology, but what people choose
to do with it.
Because the EUCD gives (in article
6) legal protection to "effective technical measures"
used by rightsholders to restrict the use of copyrighted works, and because
reverse-engineering such a measure is equivalent to circumventing it, the law
creates a class of computer programs which cannot legally be written. Under the
"Digital Millenium Copyright Act" in the United States, which is the rough
equivalent of the EUCD, the programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was prosecuted for
writing a program intended to allow the users of electronic books to back up
the works or to make them more accessible to blind people. In the future, we
can expect more widespread use of technical protection measures, and therefore
the sphere of computer programs which will be illegal to write will widen. We
can imagine, for instance, a future word-processor protecting its document
files with a technical protection measure, so that the file format gains legal
protection from circumvention: and, hence, reverse engineering. The publisher
of the software would therefore be able to preserve their market from any
Similar protections apply to "rights management information", which
is metadata such as identifying "watermarks" which is combined with a work
(this is covered by article
7 of the EUCD); in particular, the EUCD prohibits the removal or
modification of rights management information. Although not as serious as the
problems with the protections for technical protection measures, these
provisions clearly restrict the ability of programmers to develop software to
process media files. For instance, it could become illegal to write image
processing software which permits the removal of "watermarks" or which converts
images into a format which does not preserve them. One implication of this is
that when rights management information is used to track the usage of a work
in digital format, infringing user privacy, it will become illegal to write or
use software to strip out the information in an attempt to preserve the user's
In general, the EUCD and similar laws represent an unwanted and unhelpful
intrusion into the sphere of software development and innovation.
See also our article,
Why the EUCD
Things may get worse, of course. In the United States, media companies are
pushing for the introduction of even more draconian legislation, the
CBDTPA ("Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act", previously
the SSSCA or "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act"), which would
require all computer systems to be licensed by the Federal Government, lest
they become channels for "piracy" of copyrighted works. This would be likely to
criminalise much small-scale software development, and effectively prohibit the
use of open source operating systems in the United States. See
article by Declan McCullagh, and
draft text of the bill at
Cryptome. Although the CBDTPA is not yet law
even in the United States, it should serve as a warning of the character of
restrictions for which the media industry is now lobbying.
The discussion of TPMs in Article 6 of the EUCD
discusses technical protection measures and the legal protection which they
are to attract under the new copyright regime. The Directive requires member
provide adequate legal protection against the circumvention of any effective
technological measures, which the person concerned carries out in the
knowledge, or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that
Technological measures are defined in
6.3. A measure is deemed to be "effective" if
the use of a protected work or other subject-matter is controlled by the
rightholders through application of an access control or protection process,
such as encryption, scrambling or other transformation of the work or other
subject-matter or a copy control mechanism, which achieves the protection
This definition is somewhat tautological. An "effective" measure is one
which can be used by rightholders to control the use of a work, and
"which achieves the protection objective". An obvious argument to make
here is that a TPM which has been broken does not "achieve the protection
objective" and is therefore not "effective". However, it is hard to believe
that the framers of the Directive can have intended for the legal protection
of a measure to extend only up to the point where it is circumvented.
UK implementation does not clear this up at all; it simply uses the
"effective technological measures" formula verbatim.)
In summary, we don't know the answer to this one, but it is hard to believe
that we should understand "effective" to mean "not broken yet". A more
reasonable interpretation which (especially in the light of the definition
in article 6.3) is that an "effective" measure is one which is designed and
intended to restrict access to a work.
The owner of a copy of a copyrighted work, such as a book, computer program or
compact disc, has certain rights in respect of that work regardless of
copyright. These rights are referred to as "fair use" rights; although the
particular rights vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, typical examples
include the right to copy extracts of a work for the purposes of study or
criticism and the right to make a back-up copy of a computer program in order
to protect your investment in the program. In some jurisdictions, such as the
United States, a user is permitted to make private copies of a work in order
to, for instance, make it available on a more convenient medium than that in
which it is supplied (e.g., copying a compact disc onto a cassette tape so that
it can be played in a car stereo).
Copyright represents an extremely powerful, state-endorsed monopoly on the
distribution of any work which it protects. Fair use rights, along with the
limited term of copyright, represent the other half of the copyright bargain
between the creators or publishers of works and society. (It is no surprise
that media companies are trying to erode both of these protections.)
If there were no fair use rights, that is, if the protections afforded by
copyright were absolute, rights holders would be able to suppress the
publication of an unfavourable review which included extracts of a work, to
prevent libraries from lending books and to prevent works being studied in
schools and universities without the permission of the publisher. Fair use
rights are vital in protecting freedom of expression and the free exchange of
ideas. Without a fair use right to make a back-up copy, it would be impossible
for computer users to legally protect the investment they make in purchased
Indeed, the absence of a fair use right of private copying in the UK has
already resulted in the absurd situation that making a copy of a compact disc
on a tape to play in your car is an infringing act. It surely cannot be in the
interests of society for a music lover to have to buy two separate copies of
a work in order to be able to listen to it either at home or on the way to
"Fair use" rights in the UK are addressed by the doctrine of "fair dealing". By
comparison to those available in other countries, the rights in UK law are
rather restricted. Those explicitly covered by the
and Patents Act 1988 consist of:
- A general exemption for the purposes of research and private study
this does not apply to acts relating to a database done in the course of
- An exemption for criticism, review and news reporting, which permits the
use of parts of works other than photographs so long as accompanied by a
- An exemption for "incidental inclusion" of a copyrighted work in an
artistic work, television programme, etc.
- Some general exemptions for educational establishments and publications
- Various other rights relating to libraries and public administration; in
particular, these govern the making of copies by libraries for their users, and
the making of copies for court proceedings and various governmental uses
- The right of the user of a computer program to make a back-up copy, or to
"reverse-engineer" the program for the purposes of interoperability (sections
- The right to make a recording of a broadcast or cable programme for "time
shifting", the purpose of viewing or listening at a more convenient time
- Various rights associated with databases, registered designs, and
typefaces, which probably do not concern most consumers.
In particular, note that there is no general right of private
copying in UK law, even for "media shifting". Since making any copy is
an infringing act unless specifically exempted, and the only exemptions made
are those listed above, private copies of a work such as copies of CD tracks in
MP3 format on a PC are infringing copies. In fact, even the copies of copyright
materials in an internet service provider's web cache are infringing copies,
though the making of temporary copies such as these is to be permitted under
the new European Union Copyright Directive. (It is not anticipated that
temporary copies exemption will apply to "ripped" copies of CD tracks stored on
a PC or portable MP3 player.)
Note, of course, that the absence of a private copying right in UK law has
not stopped the manufacturers of portable MP3 players and compact-disc
recorders from advertising them in the UK for purposes which are predicated
upon private copying. See also the report,
The Lie Behind CD and MP3 Adverts from
There is no right to private copying for "media shifting" (for instance,
copying a CD to tape to play in your car or to a computer in MP3 format to play
on a portable MP3 player) in the UK. The "private study" exception does not
cover such activity. See this
mailing list posting by Julian Midgley for more information.
Is this ludicrous? Yes, pretty much. After all, such copying is ubiquitous
and is permitted in many jurisdictions. The Consumers' Association is
campaigning for the inclusion of such a right into UK law; see their report,
A "Technical Protection Measure" (TPM) is some piece of technology,
typically electronic hardware or computer software, which is designed to
prevent acts prohibited by the holder of a copyright, such as unauthorised
copying. TPMs are also referred to as "technical measures", "technological
measures", "effective technological measures" and other like forms of
words. A key part of new copyright legislation, such as the European Union
Copyright Directive (EUCD) and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, is to
give legal protection to TPMs and their use by publishers.
The central problem with TPMs is that they may be used to enforce
restrictions which are not part of, or contrary to, copyright law. For
instance, in UK law there exist limited rights to
make copies of extracts of a work for private studying, criticism and so
forth. Technical protection measures have no moral sense, and cannot determine
when an attempt at copying is a legitimate exercise of "fair use" rights, or an
attempt at an infringing act; the result is that all copying, whether
permitted in law or not, is likely to become impossible. A well known and
controversial example was Adobe's e-Book
edition of Alice in Wonderland, which was distributed subject
to these TPM-enforced conditions:
- No text selections can be copied from this book to the clipboard.
- No printing is permitted on this book.
- This book cannot be lent or given to someone else.
- This book cannot be given to someone else.
- This book cannot be read aloud.
article from The Industry Standard
for more information.) Although it appears that Adobe had imposed these
conditions essentially by accident, future publishers might do so
Another serious problem occurs at the end of the term of copyright. At this
point, works enter the "public domain" and may be copied without restriction.
But there is nothing to require a TPM to take account of the expiry of
copyright, so works protected by TPMs may never enter the public domain.
(Especially if, seventy years hence, the technology upon which the TPM is based
Laws such as the EUCD will make it illegal for the owner of a work to
circumvent a TPM even when their only intention is to exercise their "fair
use" rights; and in the future, more sophisticated TPMs may be deployed which
make circumvention effectively impossible. The upshot of this is that
the social contract of copyright is shattered, replaced by a technological
monopoly controlled by rightsholders and protected by national law. The
widespread deployment of TPMs and their protection in law will be disastrous
for the users of copyrighted works.
TPMs can take many forms. Those who used home computers in the 1980s may
remember software which was supplied on "copy protected" diskettes, which
were an attempt by publishers to make illegal copying (and, incidentally,
legitimate backups) impossible by manipulating the format of the disks on which
the software was supplied, often by marking parts of the diskette as "bad"
or "damaged". This strategy has resurfaced in the form of CDROM copy protection
schemes such as Macrovision's
technology. Macrovision, of course, are famous for an eponymous
electronic device intended to prevent copying of commercial video cassettes,
"pay per view" television programmes and DVDs. The
Sony "Play Station" games computer uses
games distributed on black CDROMs, and refuses to play copies of games made on
normal blue CDRs without an end-user modification.
The best known current example, however, is probably "copy protected"
music CDs which are intended to prevent CDs from being played in computers
while allowing playback in hi-fi equipment. In this case, the protection
mechanism is to make CDs which abuse some advanced feature of the compact disc
standard which is not used by conventional music players but which will confuse
a computer's CDROM drive. A typical strategy is to include an additional,
corrupt "session" at the end of the disc, following the music tracks.
Unfortunately for the consumer, more modern audio equipment recognises and is
confused by the corrupt data, and many of these CDs will not play in modern
devices such as DVD players, jog-proof portable CD players, and car stereos.
Unfortunately for the music publishers, the "copy protection" can easily be
circumvented using widely available software such as
CD Paranoia (and other programs
based on the same code or similar principles) and a reasonably modern CDROM
reader. A thorough technical analysis is in
paper (in PostScript) from the Felten group at Stanford.
(Note that these "copy protected" CDs are not CDs in the usual
sense, because they do not meet the standards set down by
Philips, the originators of the format.
This means that there is no guarantee at all that they will work in any
standard CD player carrying the trademarked "compact disc digital audio"
logotype. All that can be said about them is that they are shiny discs which
resemble CDs and whose use might result in music coming out of a CD
player. In the UK, the purchaser of a disc is protected by consumer law, and
should be able to obtain a refund for such a disc if it is described as a "CD"
or as being suitable for playing in a standard hi-fi or other music player.
Philips do not permit the publishers of such discs to be mark them with the
"compact disc digital audio" logotype; instead, the discs may carry an
obscure logotype defined by the
International Federation of Phonographic
release for more information.)
CDR has more information
about these "copy protected" CDs.
Copyright © 2010
Campaign for Digital Rights. This FAQ
is maintained by Chris Lightfoot