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Lenz and Slater on my paper

K.F. Lenz blogged about my paper on DRM in Japan. Then, Derek Slater wrote a followup on Lenz’s entry.

K.F. Lenz’ post starts with “DRM works says Andreas Bovens”. However, as Derek Slater points out, I didn’t really say that. Slater:

I think Karl’s statement that the article says DRM works, contrary to arguments like Cory’s, is misleading and misunderstands Cory and others a bit. The question is: does DRM stop piracy – does it stop the acquisition of unencrypted content over P2P/the darknet?

The DRM inside Japanese mobile phones does not stop piracy: 1. it should be possible to copy DRMed chaku-uta via a digital-to-analog-to-digital conversion process (cfr. footnote 46 of my paper) and 2. nothing stops users from converting mp3s they downloaded to songs in an encrypted format, which they can listen to on their cell phones [except for the price of a legal version of KDDI’s mp3-to-amc conversion tool, maybe] (cfr. Slater’s blog entry).

Thus, does DRM work as a tool for stopping piracy? No. Do certain uses of DRM work in the sense that they are accepted as being an evident part of the product a customer purchases? Apparently yes. Examples include chaku-uta or maybe even Nintendo game cartridges.

Lenz also has an interesting remark about anti-circumvention:

On the other hand, I hesitate to agree with the assertion on page 5 of the paper that Article 120bis of the Japanese Copyright Law prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures. Mere circumvention is only prohibited if it is done as a business in response to a request from the public. In all other cases, circumvention as such is not relevant. For example, if someone circumvents DRM to extract an e-book edition of Akutagawa‘s “Kappa”, then that would not be a violation of copyright (the author is dead since 1927) and, since there is no prohibition of circumvention as such, that would be perfectly legal under Japanese law.

Article 120bis indeed mentions that circumvention done as a business in response to a request from the public is prohibited. However, article 30 (1) (ii) states that, in the case where reproducing a copyrighted work in the context of limitations on rights (e.g. a copy for personal use) requires the circumvention of technological protection mechanisms, such reproduction is not allowed. Extracting a DRMed e-book of Akutagawa for personal use is thus not legal, if I am correct.

I will add a reference to article 30 (1) (ii) in my paper (on p. 5 and 7) – thanks for pointing out the limitations of art 120bis.

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