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Is TPM a dirty word? Digital rights management-systems and video games within the EU

Alquist, Alexandra LU (2013) JURM02 20132
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Dator- och TV-spel är relativt nyligen introducerade och komplext utformade verk, vilket innebär en utmaning avseende upphovsrättsligt skydd. I huvudsak består ett sådant spel av ett flertal olika upphovsrättsliga alster, inkluderande programvaran, som är oupplösligt sammansatta i en och samma produkt. Detta leder till att den upphovsrättsliga klassificeringen varierar beroende på aktuell jurisdiktion, då harmonisering ännu inte har uppnåtts inom EU avseende sådana verk. Den upphovsrättsliga klassificeringen av dator- och TV-spel påverkar tillämpligheten av EU:s upphovsrättsliga skyddsåtgärdslagstiftning och därmed även utvärderingen av de elektroniska system (DRM-system) som används för att förvalta digitala rättigheter. Då denna... (More)
Dator- och TV-spel är relativt nyligen introducerade och komplext utformade verk, vilket innebär en utmaning avseende upphovsrättsligt skydd. I huvudsak består ett sådant spel av ett flertal olika upphovsrättsliga alster, inkluderande programvaran, som är oupplösligt sammansatta i en och samma produkt. Detta leder till att den upphovsrättsliga klassificeringen varierar beroende på aktuell jurisdiktion, då harmonisering ännu inte har uppnåtts inom EU avseende sådana verk. Den upphovsrättsliga klassificeringen av dator- och TV-spel påverkar tillämpligheten av EU:s upphovsrättsliga skyddsåtgärdslagstiftning och därmed även utvärderingen av de elektroniska system (DRM-system) som används för att förvalta digitala rättigheter. Då denna utvärdering utgör en signifikant del i detta arbete, var ett försök till klargörande påkallat. Det visades att det föreligger indikationer på att dator- och TV-spel inte bör betraktas som enbart programvara, utan snarare bedömas vara en komplex sammanslagning av olika intellektuella verk.

Den snabba tekniska utvecklingen har gjort det jämförelsevis lätt att få obehörig tillgång till och nyttja upphovsrättsskyddat material, vilket resulterat i en växande illegal konsumtion av dator- och TV-spel. För att motverka detta och skydda sina ensamrätter nyttjar rättighetshavare vissa system för elektronisk förvaltning av digitala rättigheter, DRM-system, avsedda att begränsa eller helt förhindra obehörig åtkomst och användning. Av de rättsligt skyddade verktyg som används uppfattas särskilt de tekniska skyddsåtgärderna (TPMs) av legitima slutanvändare som alltför restriktiva då de både begränsar åtkomst till och komplicerar användningen av dator- och TV-spelet, inbegripet handlingar som inte kräver rättsinnehavarens tillstånd. Effekten av implementerade DRM-system, särskilt TPMs, på den illegala konsumtionen och på slutanvändarnas attityder illustreras som ett led i utvärderingen av de facto effektiviteten av TPMs. Det hävdas att TPMs inte tillräckligt effektivt förhindrar den illegala konsumtionen, och vissa forskare vill även mena att användandet av TPMs kan öka omfattningen av upphovsrättsintrång, sprunget ur ett växande missnöje med dessa inom dator- och TV-spelar forum.

En annan aspekt av implementering av DRM-system, särskilt TPMs, är den potentiella konflikt som uppkommer genom att rättighetshavarens fundamentala rätt till egendom ställs mot slutanvändarens fundamentala rätt till yttrande- och informationsfrihet. Detta berättigade en utredning av huruvida TPMs gör intrång i slutanvändarens fundamentala rättigheter, och, om så är fallet, ifall detta kan anses utgöra en otillåten kränkning. Det framkommer att TPMs kan anses göra intrång i rätten till yttrande- och informationsfrihet, men rådande rättspraxis finner inte att sådana intrång innebär otillåten kränkning, men verkar däremot inte helt prekludera denna möjlighet. (Less)
Abstract
The video game poses a challenge in terms of copyright protection due to the complexity and novelty of its nature, in essence being comprised of multiple copyrightable elements, resulting in jurisdictionally diverse legal classification and harmonisation within the EU is not yet achieved. As the varying options of copyright classification of video game affects the applicability of EU anti-circumvention law, and thus, the evaluation of digital rights management-systems, which is an important part of this thesis, clarification was called for. It was found that there are indications that a video game should not be considered a mere computer program, but rather a complex amalgamation of intellectual works.

The rapid technological... (More)
The video game poses a challenge in terms of copyright protection due to the complexity and novelty of its nature, in essence being comprised of multiple copyrightable elements, resulting in jurisdictionally diverse legal classification and harmonisation within the EU is not yet achieved. As the varying options of copyright classification of video game affects the applicability of EU anti-circumvention law, and thus, the evaluation of digital rights management-systems, which is an important part of this thesis, clarification was called for. It was found that there are indications that a video game should not be considered a mere computer program, but rather a complex amalgamation of intellectual works.

The rapid technological development has made it comparably easy to gain unauthorised access to and use of copyrighted content, resulting in a growing illegal consumption of video games. To counter this, right holders implement digital rights management-systems (DRM-systems) to protect and manage their exclusive rights through restricting or preventing unauthorised access and use. Of tools used, technological protection measures (TPMs) in particular are from a lawful end-user perspective perceived as over-restrictive, complicating and limiting the access and the use of the video game, including acts that do not require right holder authorisation. In light of this, the impact of implemented DRM-systems, TPMs in particular, on illegal consumption and end-user’s attitudes is illustrated and the de facto effectiveness of TPMs evaluated. It is argued that TPMs are not truly effective in preventing illegal consumption – indeed some scholars suggest that TPMs might even increase the magnitude of copyright infringement following increasing levels of discontent within the video gaming community.

Another aspect to the implementation of DRM-systems, specifically TPMs, is the potential conflict created as the right holder’s fundamental right of property is pitted against the end-user’s fundamental right of freedom of expression and information. This called for the application of a fundamental rights perspective, investigating whether TPMs may be interfering with end-users fundamental rights and, if so, whether it is considered a violation or not. It is shown that TPMs can interfere with the right of freedom of expression and information, but so far relevant case law implies that such interference is not considered a violation, in part due to the wide margin of appreciation awarded EU Member States. However, current case law does not seem entirely preclude that as a possible future outcome.

In conclusion, TPMs does not only inconvenience lawful end-users whilst being de facto ineffective in preventing illegal consumption of video games, but TPMs also interferes with end-user fundamental rights, although violation has not been confirmed. It is thus proposed that TPMs in their current format may not be the preferred solution to counter video game piracy and ensure right holder exclusive rights. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Alquist, Alexandra LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20132
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EU-rätt, EU law, Immaterialrätt, Intellectual Property Law, Digital rights management, DRM, Technological protection measures, TPM, Video game, Fundamental rights
language
English
id
4230904
date added to LUP
2014-01-29 14:56:36
date last changed
2014-01-29 14:56:36
@misc{4230904,
  abstract     = {The video game poses a challenge in terms of copyright protection due to the complexity and novelty of its nature, in essence being comprised of multiple copyrightable elements, resulting in jurisdictionally diverse legal classification and harmonisation within the EU is not yet achieved. As the varying options of copyright classification of video game affects the applicability of EU anti-circumvention law, and thus, the evaluation of digital rights management-systems, which is an important part of this thesis, clarification was called for. It was found that there are indications that a video game should not be considered a mere computer program, but rather a complex amalgamation of intellectual works.

The rapid technological development has made it comparably easy to gain unauthorised access to and use of copyrighted content, resulting in a growing illegal consumption of video games. To counter this, right holders implement digital rights management-systems (DRM-systems) to protect and manage their exclusive rights through restricting or preventing unauthorised access and use. Of tools used, technological protection measures (TPMs) in particular are from a lawful end-user perspective perceived as over-restrictive, complicating and limiting the access and the use of the video game, including acts that do not require right holder authorisation. In light of this, the impact of implemented DRM-systems, TPMs in particular, on illegal consumption and end-user’s attitudes is illustrated and the de facto effectiveness of TPMs evaluated. It is argued that TPMs are not truly effective in preventing illegal consumption – indeed some scholars suggest that TPMs might even increase the magnitude of copyright infringement following increasing levels of discontent within the video gaming community. 

Another aspect to the implementation of DRM-systems, specifically TPMs, is the potential conflict created as the right holder’s fundamental right of property is pitted against the end-user’s fundamental right of freedom of expression and information. This called for the application of a fundamental rights perspective, investigating whether TPMs may be interfering with end-users fundamental rights and, if so, whether it is considered a violation or not. It is shown that TPMs can interfere with the right of freedom of expression and information, but so far relevant case law implies that such interference is not considered a violation, in part due to the wide margin of appreciation awarded EU Member States. However, current case law does not seem entirely preclude that as a possible future outcome.

In conclusion, TPMs does not only inconvenience lawful end-users whilst being de facto ineffective in preventing illegal consumption of video games, but TPMs also interferes with end-user fundamental rights, although violation has not been confirmed. It is thus proposed that TPMs in their current format may not be the preferred solution to counter video game piracy and ensure right holder exclusive rights.},
  author       = {Alquist, Alexandra},
  keyword      = {EU-rätt,EU law,Immaterialrätt,Intellectual Property Law,Digital rights management,DRM,Technological protection measures,TPM,Video game,Fundamental rights},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Is TPM a dirty word? Digital rights management-systems and video games within the EU},
  year         = {2013},
}