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Government refuses DRM ban

Tony Blair was petitioned to ban DRM via a recently-added facility on the government's website

The UK Government has rejected a call to ban digital rights management (DRM) protection on software, music and movies releases. It has admitted, however, that DRM does cause problems for consumers.

A petition hosted on the Government's new e-petitions website was started by blogger Neil Holmes , and eventually signed by over 1,400 people. It warned of the restrictions DRM upholds and how it "removes the freedom of choice between competing products."

In its response , the Government said DRM acts a policeman through technical protection measures and ultimately allows more choice in content.

It went on to say, "It is clear though that the needs and rights of consumers must also be carefully safeguarded... it is important that consumers' interests are maintained in the meantime".

It also said DRM's role in protecting intellectual property, new media and the creative economy was too important.

However, the Government is calling for DRM-encoded content to be more clearly labelled, and to make it easier to challenge DRM patents. The most significant change, outlined in the Chancellor's Pre-Budget report in 2006, is the introduction of a 'fair use' clause in British law. This would enable you to make a copy of a work for 'format shifting' - from CD to iPod, say - without having to breaking the law to do it.