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Important Legal Notice

Image 28.02.2005 The Council has approved the eContentplus programme. The 4-year programme (2005-08), proposed by the European Commission, will have a budget of 149 million € to tackle the fragmentation of the European digital content market and improve the accessibility and usability of geographical information, cultural content and educational material. Image Image


Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS) are technologies that describe and identify digital content protected by intellectual property rights, and enforce usage rules set by right-holders or prescribed by law for digital content. DRMs are thus an important complement to the legal framework.

In the EU the legal framework establishing these rights is set out in Directive 2001/29/EC of 22nd May 2001 on the harmonisation of copyright and related rights in the Information Society. This directive is seen as complementary to the E-commerce Directive and it deals with harmonisation of rights of reproduction, distribution, communication to the public, legal protection of anti-copying devices and rights management systems. Member States must transpose the rules set out in the Directive into national law by December 2002. Furthermore, its adoption enables the Community and its Member States to ratify the 1996 World intellectual property (WIPO) treaties concerning protection of authors (WCT) and performers and phonogram producers (WPPT).

Digital technologies have transformed the copyright environment and have given rise to a potentially huge market for content. The advent of broadband networks and their capacity to transmit large volumes of multimedia content at high speeds emphasises the importance of ensuring that digital content is available under the appropriate conditions, which meet the interests of both right holders and users.

The Directive supports the use of DRMS by protecting technical measures, and by requiring Member States to take into account the application and non-application of technological measures when providing for fair compensation in the context of the private use exception for which fair compensation is required.

The Directive also calls for voluntary measures by industry to protect copyrighted material while ensuring interoperability and compatibility of different systems in the protection of copyrighted material.

Against this background, the European Commission is open to playing a facilitating role aimed at encouraging the different stakeholders to tackle outstanding DRM issues together and find common ground. To this end, a Commission Staff Working Paper on DRMS has been published and a group of stakeholders have discussed the outstanding issues in a series of workshops organised by the European Commission.

Additional information can be found at

Other European Union Directives regulating aspects of IPR (Intellectual property rights) in the information society:

  • Directive 2001/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art
  • Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society
  • Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases
  • Council Directive 93/98/EEC of 29 October 1993 harmonizing the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights
  • Council Directive 93/83/EEC of 27 September 1993 on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission
  • Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property
  • Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs

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