FACTS about Technological Protection Measures (TPMs)
Recently there were a number of major amendments to the Copyright Act 1968. Key changes relevant to the interactive entertainment industry relate to Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and the enforcement provisions. The following FAQ will explain:
What is a Technical Protection Measure (TPM)?
- • TPMs are used by copyright owners to protect their copyright material including, games from being copied or improperly accessed. Passwords, encryption, access codes and copyright controls are all considered a TPM and which copyright owners use in their games consoles and online products and services.
What changes in the Copyright Act impact the use of a TPM?
- • TPMs whether access controls or copy controls are protected when there is a connection with copyright. Further, the new laws introduced a number of new enforcement provisions to protect copyright.
What can happen for circumventing TPMs?
- • It is both a civil and criminal offence where a person circumvents a TPM for the purpose of copyright infringement. Additional remedies and penalties have been introduced, including stronger criminal penalties of five years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $60,500.
Are there any exceptions to the offences for circumventing TPMs?
- • There are two very specific and limited exceptions, which apply to a TPM designed solely for geographic market segmentation and a TPM designed to restrict the use of goods or services.
Does this mean it is now legal to circumvent for region coding?
- • The region coding exception is very limited – there is no blanket right to circumvent region coding TPMs. It will only apply when the region coding TPM exclusively is circumvented. The IEAA and its members take seriously the protection of copyright and welcome the new enforcement provision which provides a tougher stance on piracy.
I thought there was a recent case which meant that modchipping is legal?
- • Modchipping per se has never been legal. Recent High Court rulings were based on a very technical interpretation of the TPMs used in older generation consoles. Since this time there has been important changes made to the Copyright Act which provide greater protection to copyright owners. It is also important to remember that the new laws don’t give blanket permission for circumventing (through modchipping or otherwise).