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MPs call for digital rights safeguards

Tash Shifrin

MPs have told the government that it should not legislate to make digital rights management systems mandatory.

The recommendation from the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group follows its inquiry into digital rights management (DRM), which considered evidence from publishers, the film and music industries, lawyers and others.

Publishers of books and music have argued in favour of DRM systems, saying they protect intellectual property from unauthorised copying and distribution.

But the technology has been opposed by many others, including Linux kernel developer Linus Torvalds, who has argued against putting DRM measures in the new GNU General Public License because it could block wider commercial adoption of the Linux operating system.

In a report on its findings, the parliamentary group called on the Office of Fair Trading to draw up labelling regulations to make it clear to consumers what they will and will not be able to do with the digital products they buy.

It also calls on communications regulator Ofcom to publish guidance clarifying that companies distributing technical protection systems similar to those in Sony-BMG’s MediaMax and XCP systems – which contact a website when users insert a protected disc in their computers - could risk prosecution under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 or the Data Protection Act 1998.

The committee recommended that the Department of Trade and Industry investigate the single-market issues connected with DRM and raise them at a European level.


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