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Proposal for a directive on contracts for the supply of digital content – detailed explanation of the specific provisions

Article 2 contains a list of definitions for terms used in the Directive. For example, the definition of digital content is deliberately broad and encompasses all types of digital content, including for example, downloaded or web streamed movies, cloud storage, social media or visual modelling files for 3D printing.

Article 3 sets, based on the subject matter, the personal and material scope of the Directive. The Directive covers only business-to-consumer transactions. The Directive covers the supply of all types of digital content. It also covers digital content supplied not only for a monetary payment but also in exchange for (personal and other) data provided by consumers, except where the data have been collected for the sole purpose of meeting legal requirements. The Directive does not cover services performed with a significant element of human intervention or contracts governing specific sectorial services such as healthcare, gambling or financial services.

Article 4 establishes that the present Directive (de) is a full harmonisation Directive. It precludes Member States, within its scope of application, from adopting or maintaining laws remaining below or going beyond the requirements of the Directive. The effect of Article 4 combined with Article 1 is also to determine that in the other areas not included in the scope of application of this Directive, Member States are free to provide national solutions.

Article 5 clarifies the modalities and time of supply of digital content. The digital content must be supplied to the consumer or to a third party which operates a physical or virtual facility allowing processing of, access to or transmission of digital content to the final consumer and with which the consumer is in a contractual relation. As a default rule, the digital content should be supplied instantly unless the parties agree otherwise.

Article 6 contains a mixture of contractual and statutory conformity criteria against which the quality of the digital content is assessed. The digital content must primarily conform to what was promised in the contract. In the absence of such explicit benchmarks, the conformity of the digital content must be assessed according to an objective criterion, i.e. it must be fit for the purpose for which digital content of the same description would normally be used. Article 6 also clarifies that when the digital content is supplied over a period of time, the digital content must be in conformity with the contract throughout the duration of the contract and that the version of digital content supplied to the consumer shall also be the most recent version available at the time of the conclusion of contract.

Article 7 explains that a lack of conformity of the digital content resulting from an incorrect integration into the consumer’s hardware and software should be equal to a lack of conformity of the digital content itself if the reasons for the incorrect integration are in the sphere of the supplier.

Article 9 imposes the burden of proof for the absence of lack of conformity on the supplier, unless the consumer’s digital environment is not compatible with the digital content. This reversal of the burden of proof is not limited in time as digital content is not subject to wear and tear. The consumer shall cooperate with the supplier in order to allow the supplier to ascertain the consumer’s digital environment. The obligation to cooperate shall be limited to the least intrusive means technically available to the supplier.