Licence to Lock: The Overextension of Technological Protection Measures
(2021) 35(3) International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 270-287
21 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2021 Last revised: 22 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 1, 2021
As digital goods gain traction and technological advancements that enable and facilitate piracy develop, technological protection measures (‘TPMs’) have become indispensable tools for contentproducers to safeguard their intellectual property (‘IP’) rights. Like other intellectual property laws, there is an inherent tension in TPM protection provisions between safeguarding the contentproducers’ IP rights and the consumers’ collective legitimate right to access works. TPM protection may be overly broad in two major ways. Firstly, by an inefficacious transposition of the rights and authority requirements, which stems from Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty. Secondly, by an overly-broad protection of TPMs in domestic legislation. This article argues that circumventing TPMs should only be prohibited where this would also involve an infringement of existing IP rights. The first part of the article discusses the proper ambit of TPM protection provisions by comparing the scope of such laws in Australia and Singapore, concluding that the Singapore position effectively protects the content-producer’s IP rights without extending the de facto enforceability of TPM rights. The second part considers the practical implications of TPMs, including how they affect parallel imports and related practices such as geoblocking, virtual private networks (‘VPNs’) and streaming.
Keywords: Technological Protection Measures; Comparative Law; international Treaties
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