back to article 'Swiss DMCA' fears overblown, says copyright authority

A petition to repeal Switzerland's new copyright law, described as "brutal" by BoingBoing.net and hotly debated on Slashdot, was dismissed yesterday as groundless and misguided by the Swiss copyright collecting authority, SUISA. The petition's submitter, however, claims a rewrite is needed to clarify the law's true scope. …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do you mean 'legitimate purpose'?

    "bypassing DRM for legitimate purposes, such as library access, personal use and format shifting, is unquestionably a legal right, as stated clearly by Section 4 of the new copyright law."

    How can anyone know if the tool their distributing is for a 'legitimate' purpose. They can't control or even tell who is using it for what. Since it only takes one 'illegitimate' purpose for any DRM circumvention tool to be illegal, then all the DRM anti circumvention tools are illegal.

    It's meaningless gibberish to permit something for one use but not another as though the person can control how it is used.

    A crowbar is a lock circumvention tool that is also damn useful for levering planks off nails. The crowbar supplier cannot control people who use that crowbar and so cannot ensure it is only used to prey planks off nails.

    This is an idiot law, and the challenge is valid and necessary. DRM does not work, the companies that were pushing it are abandoning it, and breaking bad DRM exposes the weakness of a badly made product.

  2. Mectron
    Thumb Down

    let me see...

    Since DRM is illegal by definition, what the point of a law to prevent HONEST citizen from bypassing it?

    DRM: Advoid, Remove, copy - Rince and repeat. No illegal RIAA/MPAA supplied law can prevent that.

  3. Spleen

    Ambiguity

    Legal ambiguity is the friend of government, and one of its Top Facebook luvu4ever Friends at that. The FUD effect of an ambiguously-worded law is far more powerful than the mere deterrent effect of a properly-worded one. It doesn't matter that the law *may* permit not-for-profit circumvention of DRM; it will still have a chilling effect.

    Whether this is the Swiss Government's intention or not - if it was our government I wouldn't have any doubts that the ambiguity was deliberate, but the Swiss government doesn't have that reputation - they should fix it. Here's my attempt: "it is forbidden to make profits through the manufacture, import, bla bla bla of devices, products or components [which circumvent DRM]". Maybe that doesn't translate as well into Switzerland's three languages. Maybe it doesn't work as a legal text at all (IANAL). But if I can at least have a go then I'm sure the lawyers being paid hundreds of pounds an hour can figure it out. That's their job.

  4. Guy
    Thumb Down

    Define Circumvent

    If you took this literally it could mean that any device that enables playback of a DRM protected file would be illegal as you need to "circumvent" it in order to view/listen to it. this would mean that Sony et al would have to give devices away so as to be shown to be "not profiting". Multi region DVD players would also be illegal.

  5. Morely Dotes

    Deliberately misleading as well as ambiguous

    The term "DRM" (Digital Rights Management) is inherently a lie. The purpose of the technology is to deny users their legal rights to make a backup copy or transfer the media into another format which is more convenient for them.

    The correct term is "Technology Users' Rights Denial Systems" (TURDS). It is not surprising that governments who support the RIAA/MPAA pigopolists prefer to use the lie, rather than the truth; after all, imagine what would happen to the career of any politician who was known to vote in favor of TURDS; nor is it surprising that the entertainment industry prefers the positive-sounding DRM to the the honest admission that they sell products which are full of TURDS.

  6. Nagy, Balázs András
    IT Angle

    for any and all DRM?

    Remember the case of the shift-key-DRM-"hack"? When the DRM was only a program that was in the CD's autorun.inf and if you disabled autorun feature, DRM was circumvented?

    Following the ambiguous second meaning, this would illegalize any and all keyboards as well as changing that registry value in windows, etc etc....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Purpose of the new law?

    DRM is not illegal in Switzerland. Hypothetically the industry could sell their CDs and DVDs sealed in PVC blocks and it would be 100% the user's concern how he executes the useage rights that he just has bought. In consequence it's entirely up to the buyers to stop DRM, no law is going to protect them.

    I don't understand why Switzerland needs this Article 39a about DRM. Circumventing DRM barriers for legal purposes (private copies and format conversion) will still be legal, and the circumvention for illegal purposes has been illegal before (duh).

    The reasonable explanation is that those who wrote this law hope to slow down the development, distribution and (also legal) use of DRM cracks by taking away the commercial incentive and by making it unclear how far the "for profit" bit goes (it is mistakeable in my opinion, too).

    Also it's funny how the SUISA dude promises that DRM is in retreat – This *could* be right for their core competence (disk-shaped music), but others play this game, too (music on the internet, film, computer games).

    It will be difficult to collect 50'000 valid signatures with no substantial support from political organisations in the given timeframe. But it's not a DMCA-like regulation, it still is legal to download copyright protected material here. Punitive damages are unknown in our legal system, too.

    However, the international DMCA/WIPO storm has caused a slight draught in the majority of Swiss MP's heads.

  8. F Seiler

    WIPO Copyright Treaty

    As i understand it the law change is to comply to the WIPO WCT and WPPT (like some fifty other countries already do).

    From the message regarding the change:

    (my translation, no guarantees on the accuracy)

    "An implementation of protection level no higher than the minimal standards required by the two treaties was examined" [--in other words - not the finally accepted solution --]. "Indispensible for the ratification of the treaties is the prohibition to circumvent technical measures," [...damn complicated clause follows...].

    In the end, they agreed on exending the protection WPPT requires for music artists to other artists and to forbid not only the "circumvention of measures" but also "preliminary actions" for those (this means making/selling/etc the tools). But OTOH unlike in the EU (they say), those actions cannot be prosecuted if they are taken to exercise granted other rights (In my interpretation this means private "fair use" copying - so i could break DRM for personal use, which i usally do. What i later do with the now unprotected data may or may not be illegal).

    Basically there are so many views on the DRM question that their only hope to get a new law in effect to get the WCT ratified was to make an ambiguous law and leave the level of enforcement up to further change/discussion, if they *ever* wanted it to be ratified within the next few decades :)

    I'm from switzerland, not a lawyer, and i barely heard of this law up to only about a week ago. I back up all my DVDs because i prefer them in small mkv/h264 without the ads/menus, can convert the subtitles to something less eyecancer-provokingly styled and can stack the originals away in the closet.

    To add to the general DRM ressentiment of above posters..

    Personally, i agree that there cannot be no rights protection at all. But i think they should have put more weight on actually protecting the rights and less on protecting the DRM.

    DRM is a concept that is simply wrong because it can never be as system independent as the data it tries to deny access to and is impossible to do transparent to the user.

  9. Blackadder

    @Morely Dotes

    The term "DRM" should read Digital Restriction Management because thats what it tries to do.

  10. Aubry Thonon

    Why bother?

    "The whole exercise may be pointless, he added, since the content industry is gradually abandoning DRM, anyway"

    In which case, why do you need this DRM-protecting piece of crap legislation "anyway"? Surely, if the "industry is... abandoning DRM" and "the whole exercise may be pointless" as you say... WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS AND WASTING EVERYONE'S TIME?

  11. BitTwister

    Pah

    Ambiguous wording in legislation - the fig-leaf of incompetents and wannabe tyrants.

  12. Colin
    Flame

    @Morely Dotes

    I know the standard is slipping as of late, but we used to at least have adult idiots instead of this kind of 12-year-old "huh huh TURDS" crap.

    GROW UP, for fucks sake. DRM *is* Digitial Rights Management, it's just not *your* rights it's managing.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't like DRM, but this kind of Beavis and Butthead "it's not DRM, it's TURDS" argument doesn't really help the cause.

  13. heystoopid
    Flame

    Oh no

    Oh no this is an absolute disaster , for Rapidshare.com home base is Switzerland !

    Oh well that tears it then , first emule now this mean felony copyright control law , 12 months in the hole for the price of just one file , man these guys are really evil wowsers !

    But then again who is going to pay for a prison system that would have to expand a hundred thousand fold just to hold the first batch of youth offenders ?

  14. Stephen Jenner
    Happy

    Direct Democracy in Action.

    So nice to witness true democracy in action, if Florian Bösch can get his 50,000 signatures he can force a vote across Switzerland, and that would demonstrate whether the new law is too draconian or not.

  15. Alan Donaly
    Thumb Up

    foreign corporations

    Read this as American corporations usually, have this idea that they rule everywhere and that unless laws of all nations support their rights even over the people of those nations those nations are unlawful they are supported by their hirelings in the government of the United States these people are fully paid for both parties, all of them owe their jobs to these corporations, contributions to their campaigns, and without them and their support they are not in office. Even if the laws they want enacted are not utterly abusive it is the duty of all citizens of democratic countries to throw such legislation out it's pretty simple really follow the money around it's all there is to it. Hopefully with the balance of economic power shifting out of the US it will be easier to do this but vigilance is ever required in a democracy. One more thing it's fundamentally different for the people of the US to allow this to happen we benefit directly from the success of those same corporations, you do not and should not allow them this license.

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