German library allowed to crack copy protection
The German national library (Deutsche Bibliothek) has negiotated a license with rightholders to legally circumvent copy protection mechanisms on CD-roms, videos, software and E-books. It seems this is the first library in Europe to have managed a voluntary agreement on the strict new anti-circumvention rules prescribed by the EU copyright directive of 2001 (2001/29/EC). Article 6 of the EUCD prohibits acts of circumvention, as well as the distribution of tools and technologies used for circumvention of access control or copy protection measures. Member States could choose between penal or civil sanctions for infringement. Germany has chosen penal sanctions, with large fines or a 3 year prison sentence for circumvention for a commercial purpose.
Article 6.4 of the EUCD calls on governments to take appropriate measures should voluntary agreements between rightsholders and 'beneficiaries of exceptions or limitations' fail. One of these permitted exceptions, that can be introduced by Member States, is Article 5.2c: "in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage."
The German transposition of the EUCD, entered into force in September 2003, did not explicitly acknowledge this limitation, but allows users to circumvent technical measures for private, non-commercial archiving purposes. This exception indirectly also applies to libraries and archives, but depends on permission from the rightsholders. In the explanatory memorandum of the second 'basket' of copyright legislation, proposed in September 2004, the legislator only introduces a specific exception for libraries to make works available online, at the library, but declines any further clarification on the archiving issue.
The German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German Booksellers and Publishers Association have agreed to allow the library to fulfil its legal obligation to collect and make available material for long-term archiving purposes. The agreement also allows the library to break digital locks on books and music for scientific purposes of users, for collections for school or educational purposes, for instruction and research as well as on works that are out of print. These duplications are subjected to a fee and possibly a digital watermark. Rightholders may either supply a lock-free copy of a work, but if not, the library may circumvent the protection.
Joint press release library and rightsholders (English, January 2005)
German Library Allowed To Crack Copy Protection
EU Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC (22.05.2001)
German copyright legislation (first basket, 10.09.2003)