New Copyright Policy and DRM


In the PDC, we have been working methodically through a reconsideration of Copyright Policy.
There are many sub-topics, but a specific question came up last night about DRM.

Obviously, as the Pirate Party, we’re not real keen on the whole DRM concept, but how best to address that.

There is a passive approach:
Eliminate any/all legal protections for DRM and allow personal format shifting.
Since DRM is fundamentally flawed as a technical concept, we might expect DRM to die under these conditions.
People would freely break DRM media, but non-DRM would be preferred for its convenience.

This may be ineffective in some markets:
Media outlets might collude to ALL use DRM, eliminating the anti-DRM influence.
Some monopolistic markets may simply have no competitive pressure.

So, what are the other policy options here?
Banning DRM? I’m wary. “Banning” things we don’t like seems un-pirate.

What say you Pirates?

Andrew Downing.
Policy Development Officer.
Pirate Party Australia.

Banning things is least desirable option, because;

  • It needs to be enforced (which uses resources)
  • They might just do it anyway, and find a loophole, eg. dont sell such goods in Aus, but consumers import it anyway
  • Extra regulations make understanding the system more complex

Much better to use the law to encourage alternatives to DRM (the passive approach you mention)

  • Continue to support and promote format shifting, parallel imports.
  • Require users have the ability to backup digital content to not DRM formats.
  • Maybe allow exemptions and permit DRM in some cases (there might be some corner cases where its a good idea) , but require them to warn consumers prior to purchase or use, and have a costly registration process.

More generally i think as a party we need a digital ‘bill of rights’, a well defined set of principles that we can apply to things like this, and use as campaign material.

Here is one option to consider: permit DRM but enforce vendors utilising same be subject to Consumer Law to the further extent the vendor is liable for all support, fault-rectification and ancillary entanglements in subsequent criminal use of the product for the life of the warranty period with responsibility avoidance and cut-outs specifically prohibited. In other words propagate the inconveniences and responsibilities of DRM both up and down the chain.

And when I mentioned “support” above I meant for the life of the warranty the vendor is responsible for the life of the warranty in aiding in the transfer of the DRM’d material to alternate hardware even not of the vendor’s approval. After all the DRM warranty attaches to the product sold, not the reproducing device? “Fitness for purpose”?

Too mean?

Oooo. I like it. Allow DRM, but make it a liability.
If format shifting for fair use is not only allowed, but must be enabled, then DRM starts looking like a liability to the vendor.

I guess the Dallas Buyers Club saga reinforced that it isnt the principle thats important to them, its the money.