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German Library Allowed To Crack Copy Protection 277

Posted by timothy
from the clashing-aims dept.
AlexanderT writes "The EU Directive 2001/29/EU (also known as the European Copyright Directive) has made it "a criminal offence to break or attempt to break the copy protection or access control systems on digital content such as music, videos, eBooks, and software". Since today, at least in Germany there is one notable exception: The Deutsche Bibliothek, Germany's national library and bibliographic information center, has received a "license to copy", i.e. the official authorization to crack and duplicate DRM-protected e-books and other digital media such as CD-Audio and CD-Roms. The Deutsche Bibliothek achieved an agreement with the German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German Booksellers and Publishers Association after it became obvious that copy protections would not only annoy teenage school boys, but also prohibit the library from fulling its legal mandate to collect, process and bibliographic index important German and German-language based works."
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German Library Allowed To Crack Copy Protection

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  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:07AM (#11406135)
    Sweet! It will now be able to legally store the complete collection of cracked Commodore 64 disk games!
  • Right to read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:07AM (#11406137)
    I think this would be a brilliant time to point of this essay, the right to read!
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read .html

    It'll take you 5 minutes to get through but I think everyone should check it out :)
    • Re:Right to read (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dash2 (155223)
      Let me bite.

      Should it be illegal to break into someone else's computer? Yes. It's a violation of their privacy and means you could access information which you don't have a right to.

      Why doesn't the same logic apply to breaking into someone's copy-protected CD? If you want unlimited rights to the digital content - i.e., you want to actually own the song or software - then you should buy those rights. If you don't have that ownership right then you aren't allowed to try and steal it - even if you own the ph
      • Re:Right to read (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nkh (750837) <exochicken@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @05:43AM (#11406431) Journal
        But what happen when 10 years from now I want to listen to my copy-protected CD and can't do it anymore because it is protected?

        I don't want unlimited rights to the content, I want unlimited rights to listening to the content, and this is what I bought...
        • I don't want unlimited rights to the content, I want unlimited rights to listening to the content, and this is what I bought...

          Alas I think it could use some improvement. I suggest the following enhancement

          I don't want unlimited rights to the content, I want unlimited rights to listening to the content on any fucking device, supporting such content, that catches my fancy, and this is what I bought...

      • Re:Right to read (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @05:46AM (#11406446) Journal
        Did you even read the text?

        "Breaking into someone's copy-protected CD" is one thing, but I don't see the relevance. Why would I break into someone else's CD? The thing is, I'm breaking into my own copy-protected CD. I bought the CD, it's mine.

        Is it wrong to "break into" my own car?

        • Funny that you mention it, but breaking into your own car may not be wrong, but in many cases it is illegal.

          The most legal way to break into your own car is to smash the window on your own property using a rock, because by opening the door with lockpicks, or breaking/cutting the window with specialized equipment, you have used "burglary" equipment, which is illegal to use, carry, and sometimes own without a license.

          Check your state or nation's law about "burglary tool" and lockpicks in general. I think yo
      • Re:Right to read (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheOldFart (578597) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @05:48AM (#11406455)
        What if tomorrow DVD's are replaced by some other technology? Within a few years you no longer can find a DVD player to replace yours that just died. Now you have a collection of DVDs which contain the material you paid a license to watch. Your options are to pay again to have something you already have and paid for or to break the law and copy the data to a new medium. Why is that a crime?
      • Re:Right to read (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sloppy (14984) *

        Why doesn't the same logic apply to breaking into someone's copy-protected CD?

        [Talking about USA here.] Prior to the 2004 Blizzard decision, the "someone" was you; you were breaking into your own CD. For the period of 1789 through late 2004, whenever you bought a CD, you owned the CD. You owned a copy of the contents of the CD. You owned the software. You did not license it.

        In spite of the fact that you owned the software on the CD, someone else held the copyright on this stuff that you owned, so th

      • Because humanity as a whole has a say in just what property rights should be allowed. Obviously, some property rights are a good thing, others would be bad. And it just so happens that IP is a controversial property right at the moment, in no small part because *humanity as a whole DID NOT* had a say in it. Our politicians are corrupt, and that right was purchased with bribes financed with the proceeds of a century of corrupt monopolized entertainment industry.

        If literally anything can be property, why not
  • by m50d (797211) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:11AM (#11406146) Homepage Journal
    how wrong these laws really are. If this law is preventing the library fulfilling its legal obligations, perhaps this shows it was a badly thought-out law?
    • The law doesn't prevent the library from fulfilling its legal obligations - it only makes it more difficult to do so. Just like, incidentally, how civil liberties laws makes it more difficult for the government to fulfill its national security obligations.
  • Quick Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by metlin (258108)
    Isn't law supposed to be equal for all?

    If Joe Sixpack kills someone and is forgiven, why shouldn't anyone else be? While that is an extreme (and criminal) analogy, it is unfair that the law does not treat everyone equally.

    I'm sure a good lawyer could argue out this point - if X can be exempted, why can't Y be exempted if his reasons are quite similar?
    • IANAL, but I believe you've just deduced the existence of 'precedence'.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:32AM (#11406222) Journal
      Isn't law supposed to be equal for all?
      The aren't exempt from the law; they have negotiated with the publishers for permission to make copies.

      Technically they may still be breaking the law by cracking the DRM, but since they're doing so with the permission of the publishers, it'd be silly to call them to task for it.
      • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrogers (85392)
        Actually the EUCD does provide a specific exemption for public libraries, provided they have no other way of getting a non-copy-protected version of the data. However, the EUCD is implemented differently in different EU member states, and implementations can choose which exemptions to include. What's legal in Germany might not be legal in the UK, for example, if and when the UK ever gets round to implementing the Directive.
      • If there still breaking the law then the government is involved but not the company's that make the software. So it does not matter if they care or not you could go to jail for breaking encription protecting software that was latter released for free.
      • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KiloByte (825081)
        Uhm, no one negotiated anything with me. No extortionist publisher association has any rights to give permissions for my works to anyone.

        Of course, anything (software, documentation, game data) I ever published as myself went with a free license -- and they're pretty useless for a library, but that certainly isn't the case for a majority of authors. Remember: RIAA, MPAA, and in this case, GFPI and GBPA are not everything.
      • The aren't exempt from the law; they have negotiated with the publishers for permission to make copies.

        No, they negotiated to break the law that says you're not allowed to crack copy protection. If I give you the permission to break into my house its still a criminal act if you do so. And every police officer will ask: "If he gave you access permission to his house, why didn't he give you a housekey?". So, if content industry wants to give copy permission to someone they have to give them unprotected mate

        • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          No, they negotiated to break the law that says you're not allowed to crack copy protection. If I give you the permission to break into my house its still a criminal act if you do so.

          Of course it's not illegal. What if I've lost my key, or the door is jammed, etc, etc... and I ask someone, say a locksmith, to break in to my house. Just about any act short of murder is not illegal if the person you're doing it to has and is capable of giving permission. Sorry, but a silly analogy proves nothing (not that a

    • Re:Quick Question (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Christopheles (803724)
      Well quite simply, no one is getting killed here. The apparent reason is that since the recording industry owns the copyright, they can let whomever they want do whatever they want with it. It does not say explicitly that the Bibliothek is breaking the copy protection, only that it is copying the material, which it is allowed to do. If it's breaking the protection as well, and it is indeed a criminal offense, then there might be some question as to equality here. From the article it appears that the com
    • if X can be exempted, why can't Y be exempted if his reasons are quite similar?

      By stating that X is exempted you are confirming the fact that X is an exception to the rule and this is exactly how that saying that the exception proves the rule [straightdope.com] came about. If you prove the existence of a case is an exception that implies that a rule contrary to that exception must be valid for all other cases.

    • Re:Quick Question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Urkki (668283) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:53AM (#11406294)
      • Isn't law supposed to be equal for all?
        If Joe Sixpack kills someone and is forgiven, why shouldn't anyone else be? While that is an extreme (and criminal) analogy, it is unfair that the law does not treat everyone equally.

      Not really, circumstances matter. An extreme example: an enemy soldier that kills soldier on your side in a battle is not guilty of murder even though he's an enemy (and vice versa your side killing enemy soldiers). But if you purposefully kill a soldier on your side, you're not only guilty of murder, but possibly of treason/sabotage also, even if you're a soldier too.

      Do you call that unfair, too?

      • I'm sure a good lawyer could argue out this point - if X can be exempted, why can't Y be exempted if his reasons are quite similar?

      Well, in this case it'd mean the lawyer would have to show that Y has legal (or moral or somesuch) obligation to do something which requires breaking the copy protection... I wouldn't bet on success, no matter how good the lawyer was at twisting words.
    • If Joe Sixpack kills someone and is forgiven, why shouldn't anyone else be? While that is an extreme (and criminal) analogy, it is unfair that the law does not treat everyone equally.

      Um, circumstance? I'm sure the military can do more things than I can. We aren't treated equally.
    • Re:Quick Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gone Jackal (108992)

      The EUCD [ukcdr.org] [http://ukcdr.org] explicitly states:

      (30) The rights referred to in this Directive may be transferred, assigned or subject to the granting of contractual licences, without prejudice to the relevant national legislation on copyright and related rights.

      and:

      (33) The exclusive right of reproduction should be subject to an exception to allow certain acts of temporary reproduction, which are transient or incidental reproductions, forming an integral and essential part of a technological process and ca


    • If Joe Sixpack kills someone and is forgiven, why shouldn't anyone else be? While that is an extreme (and criminal) analogy, it is unfair that the law does not treat everyone equally.

      The answer here is simple: because this is the National Library. The government can do whatever it wants because it makes the rules. We serfs must follow its edicts, but we should not expect it to be bound by its own rules.
  • In Australia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:12AM (#11406150)
    I know working for DSD all of the laws relating to 'intercept of communications' are also valid for joe public - meaning what I do in the lab, the public can also do without repercussion from law enforcement.

    It seems odd that a library should be alowed to do something, yet the German public can not. Was it to affect me, I'd lobby against the law. Write politicians and such. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, though such exemptions are usually a good start for more stupid laws.

    • If they "achieved an agreement", as the article blurb says, then it's probably more a case of "we agree to not sue you for doing this" than a case of "we don't have a say in this matter because we're not part of the government in any way" ("we" referring to the content associations in questions). Reading the article seems to support this, more or less. The law in question seems to have provisions that allow "scientific and cultural use" despite copyright restrictions, and the latest version of the law allo
  • This is important (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:12AM (#11406151)
    This is one of the primary reasons that DRM/copy protection needs to be less restrictive (or better yet done away with).

    It is important that knowledge and information be available to all now, and years down the track. Particularly if the company that made the DRM is no longer around, or the hardware no longer made.

    Information needs to be preserved and accessible and useful for all generations, not just for a companies short term profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:14AM (#11406157)
    EU License to Crack.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:15AM (#11406164)
    Cracking copy protection on books and music is great, but what about software? N years from now we'll be able to read the books, but all the old abandonware will be useless because the source code is long gone... And no, emulation doesn't cut it because you can't make derivative works.

    (BTW, I do realize that software isn't included in their mandate, but it's still an important related issue!)
  • by MartijnH (602886) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:19AM (#11406171)
    Here's also a great site on the EUCD [euro-copyrights.org]
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:24AM (#11406192) Homepage Journal
    I've heard this a LOT about copyright being there to promote innovation , but most people forget the "for the betterment of society" part of it. altruists.org [altruists.org] has the right ideas, but nobody with any real clout has said it so far. Until Now !!

    Reworking Copyright [intencha.com] pretty much covers how I feel about copyright.. (though not written by me).

    For example , Gandhi was a great proponent of "Making money is not evil" (being from a business community) unlike the England educated Nehru's socialism. People rarely distinguish between the cost of an object and it's price :).. As long as the price is not paid by society (rather than an induvidual) , copyright holds. Interestingly society profits when an induvidual pays or that's the way copyright was supposed to work.

    • you are absolutely right. Espically when you look at the origional copyright laws. Those were well though out and had a balance between giving a good benefit to the origional author/creator and thne giving back to society.

      now the pure and unadultrerated greed has perverted those laws so that copyright is unlimited in length.

      I am going to copyright a song witrh the guitar chords G,A,E in it. Now NOBODY will be able to write a song with those chords in that order without buying the rights from me.

      Is that f
  • by jlar (584848) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:27AM (#11406197)
    At least in the Danish implementation of the EU copyright directive it is illegal to produce, import, spread, sell, lease out, advertise for or in a commercial setting own products or components that are subject to advertised as usable for circumventing technological protection measures, only have limited use besides circumvention of technological protection measures or is primarily produced to make it possible to circumvent technological protection measures.

    The German implementation is probably similar. My question is: How can the German Library break the copy protection when it is illegal to produce tools to do it?
    • by term8or (576787) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @05:29AM (#11406390)
      My question is: How can the German Library break the copy protection when it is illegal to produce tools to do it?

      I would have thought the article tells you this. The german government wrote into law an exception that said that the German Library could produce and own tools to do it since it was impossible to carry out their legal functions without such an excemption. I would assume that this is legal since their is an excemption in the EU copyright directive to allow member states to make such exceptions (e.g)

      (34) Member States should be given the option of providing for certain exceptions or limitations for cases such as educational and scientific purposes, for the benefit of public institutions such as libraries and archives, ....
    • They grab CloneCD from

      SlySoft Inc.
      Dickenson Bay Street
      John Henry Bldg.
      St. John's
      Antigua (West Indies)

      In Antigua, it's still legal to produce such tools (at least, until the US invades it).
  • The jerky who wrote this thing up obviously confused "Phonographic" with uh... something a little different.

    "annoy teenage school boys". HELLO. DUMBARSE. FLAGRANT STUPIDITY REIGNS YET AGAIN.

    what a toolbox.

    ----
    (incarnate) hey cres, I know what you're thinking right now

    (incarnate) " "
    (cres) i dont get it
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:28AM (#11406208)
    The European Copyright Directive and other laws in that nature make it increasingly difficult for libraries to deliver meaningful content to their users. This is especially obviouse when it comes to university libraries.

    Take subito (http://www.subito-doc.de/) for example. It's a service provided by university libraries that let's you order copies of articles in case the relevant journal is not available in your local library. Now with universities always getting less money than actually needed, it's quite common that much of the journals you need are not available locally and so subito really provides a very useful service to students and scholars.

    However, this will probably stop in a short while as there is a legal battle raging against it brought by the same institutions that gave the Deutsche Bibliothek to crack DRM.

    To sum it up, these laws are in fact hindering innovation and research in Germany (and I'm sure also in other countries) right now and to give some special rights to one library won't change that.
  • by RenHoek (101570) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:31AM (#11406216) Homepage
    Where will they get the know-how, once the MPAA and RIAA have reached their ultimate goal of exterminating all reverse-engineers?

    I don't see the gray-hair-in-a-knot granny librarian soft-icing her way through the latest Safedisc protection...
    • I don't see the gray-hair-in-a-knot granny librarian soft-icing her way through the latest Safedisc protection...

      That library is in your imagination. Modern libraries not only are computerized to an astonishing amount, they do train the next generation of librarians on stuff like Java, SQL and Internet topics.
  • by shish (588640) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:33AM (#11406225) Homepage
    Is it a criminal offence to break or attempt to break the copy protection (rot26) on digital content such as this post?
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:36AM (#11406239)
    Of course they reached an agreement.

    The German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German Booksellers and Publishers Association didn't want this agency getting the entire law overturned. A potential ally for the little guys in their struggle against these stupid laws has just been bought off.

    At the same time, they get the added benefit of making it look like these two groups are in charge of the law and can exempt people from it.

    In the US, if the RIAA said it was okay for a library to crack it's copy protection mechanisms (haha), would that be okay under the DMCA?

    I mean, if they can do that, that seems to mean that it's okay for ANYONE who has the legal right to copy a protected work to break the copy protection mechanisms prevent that legal use.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      In the US, if the RIAA said it was okay for a library to crack it's copy protection mechanisms (haha), would that be okay under the DMCA?

      Assuming they are the sole owner of the copy protection mechanism and the works, why not? If I took your property without permission, it is called stealing (note to trolls: physical property, not IP), and is illegal. If you gave permission, it is called giving it away, and is legal.

      Of course, I don't quite understand it. Why wouldn't they simply recieve a non-DRM copy?
  • by AlexanderT (846266) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:37AM (#11406241) Homepage

    The official press release states [www.ddb.de] that, "Das Urheberrechtsgesetz sieht so genannte Schrankenregelungen vor, nach denen der Zugang zu urheberrechtlich geschützten Werken zu bestimmten Zwecken, wie zum Beispiel für wissenschaftliche und kulturelle Nutzungen, zulässig ist. Die letzte Novelle des Gesetzes, deren einschlägige Regelungen im September 2004 in Kraft getreten sind, sieht hierfür ausdrücklich die Möglichkeit von Vereinbarungen zwischen Verbänden vor, um diese Nutzungen auch von kopiergeschützten Medien zu ermöglichen."

    I think they are referring to this particular revision [bmj.bund.de] in the German copyright law, which apparantly states that associations such as the Phonographic Industry have the right to allow particular institutions, such as the National Library, to duplicate copyright-protected media (for the sake of science and culture).

    Alex,
    MobileRead.com [mobileread.com]

  • In Sweden...:D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @04:44AM (#11406266)
    Haha funny. A ruling from a couple of week ago in Sweden made it legal for anyone to crack programs and other schemes as long as it is for personal use. You are also allowed to distribute the cracked software to personal friends.

    (This is the case against the cracker group DOD, Drink or Die. While the American members all got jailed the Swedish member (who actually did most of the cracking) was freed of all charges)

    And yes, Sweden is also in the EU but thankfully our local laws can override BS laws like this (i think)
  • The Deutsche Bibliothek achieved an agreement with the German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German Booksellers and Publishers Association after it became obvious that copy protections would not only annoy teenage school boys, but also prohibit the library from fulling its legal mandate to collect, process and bibliographic index important German and German-language based works.

    If only the rest of the world operated by such noble and romantic ideas.
  • Pretty Meaningless (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MunchMunch (670504) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @06:26AM (#11406559) Homepage
    This would be important if the German National Bibliothek had somehow negotiated a way to ensure that non-DRMed copies will be made available to them for the library archives. As it is, they've only really negotiated the ability to archive for maybe another five to ten years, as by then content will more likely than not simply not be crackable.

    I only need to point to the TCPA/Palladium/locked-bios architectures that pop up every so often--if you're someone who thinks DRM will 'always be crackable as long as the content can be seen,' I have to suggest that maybe you aren't fully taking in the DRM onslaught that is about to take place. If content decoding only takes place in your speakers, monitor, etc, with watermarked/recorder-distorting tech within the images themselves, are you really prepared to crack open your monitor and speaker, braving deadly electrical currents, to solder around a connection or two in order to get a clean signal? What about when it all happens within a single piece of silicon?

    The German Bibliothek basically won the rights they already had before the EU/CD and which any logical person would argue they had as a matter of course. What they've lost in this 'victory' is the future.

    • If content decoding only takes place in your speakers, monitor, etc, with watermarked/recorder-distorting tech within the images themselves, are you really prepared to crack open your monitor and speaker, braving deadly electrical currents, to solder around a connection or two in order to get a clean signal? What about when it all happens within a single piece of silicon?

      Me? No. Someone? Yes. Watermarks are trivial to remove for any mass produced media. Recorder-distorting tech has never succeeded. A triv
  • This is actually NOT a good thing. If people or organisations have to request an additional special exemption to be allowed to bypass artificial restrictions, where will it end? We are already legally bestowed with the right of exemptions, yet is the the fault of RIAA&co we can't make use of those rights anymore!

    In fact, in many countries, those restrictions may be downright illegal, which is why it is so puzzling the EU directive seems to endorse it by making it a criminal offence, no less!

    Why is tha
  • Why do I keep looking at that post and reading "German Federation of the Pornographic Industry"?
  • I think this whole idea of it being illegal to even try to crack copy-protection is inherently flawed.

    In fact, it takes away completely the importance of actually creating copy protection of any level of quality.

    It's like locking your bike with a 1 digit combination lock that only goes up to 9 and then ranting about the fact that it gets stolen. I think this whole idea of it beeing illegal to even try to crack copy-protection is inherently flawed.

    In fact, it takes away completely the importance of
    • Well the difference is that in the physical world, property theft can be clearly defined. If you put a 1-digit lock on your bike and you catch someone going through the numbers, AFAIK they are tampering with your property with the intent to steal it. Its pretty clear where the line is drawn, although im sure there are some laws governing how much security you need for something.

      It just never happens that someone else's bike legally turns up in your house with a 1-digit lock and you then try and open it onl
  • if you have the right connections or if you represent the vocal majority, you can bend the law without breaking it, a law that was enacted by paid corporate legislation services to begin with!

    I love the Germans! They always set the example...
  • woooooow, impresive, a "license to copy". That is just soooooo not as impressive as a license to kill. This is why there will never be a cool action movie about German government agents.
  • Aside from being able to nab the latest Rammstein CD, how does this affect ME? ;)

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