Svar på lagstiftningsfrågor från EU-kommissionen

I början av 2008 bjöd EU-kommissionen in till samråd "om kreativt innehåll på internet inom den inre marknaden". Frågorna och bakgrunden finns på EU-kommissionens vävplats. Jag skickade in synpunkter på några av frågorna:

Date: 2008-02-29 12:37:02 +01:00
From: Björn Persson
To: European Commission, Audiovisual and Media Policies
Subject: Creative Content Online

I am a professional software developer and I work a lot with Internet
communication. I hereby offer my opinions on the Communication on Creative
Content Online in the light of my knowledge of how computers and the Internet

On question 1:

Interoperable DRM is as impossible as a circular square. The purpose of
Digital Restrictions Management is to prevent customers from doing things
that they would otherwise be technologically able and legally allowed to do,
for example playing certain songs on certain kinds of devices. This means
that DRM systems are intentionally and elaborately designed to not be
interoperable. If there were only one DRM system then programs and devices
attached to this system would presumably be interoperable with each other,
but they still wouldn't be interoperable with DRM-free programs and devices.
DRM is thus an obstacle to full interoperability among media player programs,
media player devices, encoders and media editing software.

Another major obstacle is patents on encoding formats. Parties who cannot
afford patent licenses or whose business model is incompatible with software
patents are forbidden to support the patented formats, so their products
cannot be interoperable with those that produce or require patented formats.
Forcing the European Patent Office to abide by the European Patent
Convention, which prohibits software patents, would be a huge step forward
for interoperability.

On question 2:

It is important that consumers be informed about Digital Restrictions
Management and other copy prevention measures before they buy a product or
service so that they can make an informed decision on whether they accept the
restrictions. There should be a very short notice clearly visible in a place
where the buyer will see it, and full details should be available to those
who want to read them. The short notice should make it clear that it is not
just about what the buyer is allowed to do, but about actively preventing the
buyer from doing certain things. The wording should therefore not be, for
example, "you may not copy this CD to ...". Instead it should be something
like "this CD contains software that prevents copying to ...".

On question 3:

Complex license agreements probably don't significantly affect the popularity
of any services, because very few people ever read license agreements. It is
however important that the terms for using a service are available
unabbreviated to anyone who wants to read them prior to agreeing to a

On question 10:

Punishing file sharers by shutting down their Internet connections has been
proposed in several countries lately. The proposals vary somewhat in the
details but they are all bad. It is a bad idea for the following reasons:

· An ever increasing part of people's daily communication takes place on the
Internet. The Internet is used not only for entertainment but also for
important communication with business partners, banks, authorities et cetera.
Some people require Internet access at home to be able to do their jobs.
Shutting people out from the Internet is a disproportionate punishment for
sharing creative content.

· An Internet connection is usually used by more than one person. Shutting the
access down is a form of collective punishment, banishing an entire family or
a company from the Internet because of one person's illegal sharing.

· Any proposal that would have carriers engage in surveillance of their
customers' communication and judge its legality violates not only the
customers' privacy but also the important principle that the messenger must
not be held responsible for the content of the message.

· The idea is typically that carriers should punish their customers either on
their own initiative or by order of the content industry. This is a threat to
legal security. It is important that such a punishment is imposed only after
a regular lawsuit (and then it's unnecessary as courts have other forms of
punishment available that strike less against the sentenced person's family).

· If file sharers think there is a significant risk that they will be
punished, what they will do is not stop sharing. Instead they will go
anonymous, hiding their IP addresses and other information that may be used
to find out who is sharing what. The tools to do this are already available
and have been so for years. Some examples are Freenet, Ants P2P and The Onion
Router (Tor).

On question 11:

My opinion as an expert in Internet technology is that attempts to filter or
block file sharing will not be effective. The cheap, crude blocking methods
that have been employed so far are very easy to circumvent. They also fail to
discriminate between works that are shared with the author's permission and
those that are shared without permission. Methods that would be harder to
circumvent would also be vastly more expensive – or even infeasible – for the
carriers to implement and maintain, and even those methods would most likely
be unacceptably inaccurate and block many cases of legal use. In the end such
a development will only drive file sharers to switch to serverless encrypted
communication protocols that cannot be distinguished from legitimate traffic.

Björn Persson

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