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Digital copyright and consumer/user protection: moving toward a new framework?

Andrea Stazi

Keywords: copyright; consumer; user; knowledge economy; digital convergence; content; technical protection measures; Directive 2011/83/EU

In the framework of the knowledge economy, digital convergence produces significant interoperability among media, together with a greater interactivity between users and communication devices. However, these expectations may be thwarted through the embedding of technical measures that monitor usage of digital media content.

Traditionally, consumers are absent from the copyright discourse. In the US legal system, a few exceptions include the first-sale doctrine, the rights of owners of copies of software to make a back-up copy, etc. In European copyright law, the terms ‘consumer’ or ‘end user’ rarely, if ever, appear in legislative texts, and are completely absent from the body of harmonized EU copyright law. Such disregard for the consumer in copyright law, however, is facing the digital environment, where the interaction between copyright and consumer protection needs to find a new balance in a more user-centric regime, fostering a flourishing environment for digital content.

Recently, the Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights adopted in October 2011 has dealt explicitly with digital content, including it among the issues regulated by the Directive. The new EU Directive on consumer rights appears to be a first – desirable – step toward a balanced intersection between copyright and consumer/user protection.

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