Finland Wants to Criminalize Talking About DRM Circumvention

Is it criminal to even talk about CSS contained in a DVD? Apparently, with respect to circumvention, that’s what Finland wants to do through a controversial court case. As a result, the case is moving to the EU court of Human rights.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

At issue is a Finnish EU copyright directive which came into force in 2006 which criminalizes the act of merely talking about circumventing DRM. Mikko Rauhala had started a web discussion forum to also talk about the downfalls of the directive as well.

EDRI has more details:

However the Police started its investigation with the public prosecutor who was supported strongly by the Finnish Anti-Piracy Association which arranged the “expert” testimonies for the prosecutor. Soon thereafter, the case was referred to the Helsinki District Court which decided in Rauhala’s favor; that CSS was not a type of protection measure covered by the Directive and therefore the ban did not apply. The district attorney appealed to the Helsinki Appellate Court, which stated that Mr. Rauhala was guilty of illegally circumventing a technological protection measure and of providing an illegal service for the circumvention of protection measures. The Supreme Court of Finland denied Mr. Rauhala’s application.

Since all of the court decisions that were involved in the case wouldn’t touch freedom of expression as defined in the Finnish constitution, Rauhala had to take his case to European Court of Human Rights.

Given that this is a free speech issue, it’s extremely difficult to see what the Finnish authorities hope to accomplish here. If the mere act of talking about a DRM is banned, people will simply move to a website hosted and operated outside of the borders of Finland – not to mention using proxies to cover their trails in the process. Any punishment Rauhala would face is not immediately clear in this or other past reports.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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