You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

EU Anti-Circumvention Laws


At the Berkman Center, we released today a paper on the current state of implementation of the EU Copyright Directive (EUCD), with emphasis on the transposition of the provisions on the legal protection of technological measures sections (such as encryption, digital watermarking, copy-control technologies, and the like.) In this study, we have taken a closer look at the relevant definitions, exemptions, sanctions and remedies associated with the national anti-circumvention laws. What are the key findings?

First, our analysis reveals that uncertainty over the scope of provisions aimed at protecting technological measures as well as the definition of crucial terms (such as ‘effective measures’) persists – even at a rather basic level. The question, for instance, as to what extent access control mechanisms fall under the definition of technological protection measures and, as a consequence, are protected by the anti-circumvention provisions has been contested.

Second, the study explores different ways in which national implementations have addressed the problem of privately applied technological protection measures vis-�-vis the traditional exceptions to copyright within the framework as laid down in the EUCD. As demonstrated in the paper, incumbent member states have not made broad use of the possibility to take measures ensuring that private copying exceptions will survive technological protection measures, and have gone different paths as far as the implementation of the public policy exception as set forth by the EUCD are concerned.

Third, a brief analysis of some approaches to sanctions and remedies taken by EU member states suggests that member states have interpreted the relevant provisions of the EUCD – calling for “appropriate sanctions and remedies” – in different ways. While all countries impose civil sanctions in the case of a violation of anti-circumvention provisions, differences remain with regard to criminal sanctions. The regimes range from significant criminal sentences for both acts of circumvention and trafficking in circumvention devices and services to copyright laws that stipulate modest fines, but no imprisonment in the case of a violation of the anti-circumvention provisions.

The project website also provides an interactive chart with a resource page containing international and national legislation on technological protection measures with focus on the relevant laws of EU member states for further research. We intend to update the site as soon as new anti-circumvention provisions have been enacted in a EU member state.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log in