New technical systems, such as digital rights management (“DRM”), make it possible for owners of copyrights to control and prohibit respectively the delivery of the digitalised content of their works e.g. for playback on a computer, portable device or network device. The copy protection is the crucial point of these control systems, allowing the purchaser of a music CD for example to make either no copy at all or a limited number of copies of the music files on the CD.

The control possibilities of the DRM may also extend to uses which, like the copying for private use, are legally permitted. Based on this fact, the discussion started about the question if the private use actually constitutes a right of the user, or if such use may only be regarded as pragmatic exception to the copyright protection, for which no justification exists anymore, when a new technical system allows the use of a control mechanism in the area of private use.

The collecting societies will possibly be challenged by the DRM and lose significance, should the controlling possibilities reach the end users’ private use of digitalised copyrighted products. The legal framework for the application of DRM is being discussed under the current revision of the copyright law, whose termination and implementation is not to be expected within the next five years yet.