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Proposal for a directive on contracts for the supply of digital content – termination

The supplier should be liable to the consumer for the lack of conformity with the contract and for any failure to supply the digital content. Moreover, given that digital content may be supplied over a period of time, it is justified that the supplier should be liable for any lack of conformity which occurs during that period.

A failure of the supplier to supply the digital content to the consumer in accordance with the contract is a serious breach of the main contractual obligation of the supplier, which should allow the consumer to immediately terminate the contract.

Where the supplier has initially not failed to supply the digital content, interruptions of the supply making the digital content not available or accessible to the consumer over a short period of time should be treated as non-conformity with the contract, and not a failure to supply. In particular, the requirement of proper continuity of the digital content should also cover more than negligible short term interruptions of the supply.

Where the consumer terminates the contract, the supplier should reimburse the price paid by the consumer or, where the digital content is supplied not in exchange for a price but against access to data provided by the consumer, the supplier should refrain from using it, from transferring that data to third parties or allowing third parties to access it after termination of the contract.

Fulfilling the obligation to refrain from using data should mean in the case when the counter- performance consists of personal data, that the supplier should take all measures in order to comply with data protection rules by deleting it or rendering it anonymous in such a way that the consumer cannot be identified by any means likely reasonably to be used either by the supplier or by any other person.

Upon termination the supplier should also refrain from using the content generated by the consumer. However, in those cases where more than one consumer generated particular content, the supplier is entitled to continue to use the content generated by the consumer where those other consumers make use of it.

In order to ensure that the consumer benefits from effective protection in relation to the right to terminate the contract, the supplier should allow the consumer to retrieve all data uploaded by the consumer, produced by the consumer with the use of the digital content or generated through the consumer’s use of the digital content. This obligation should extend to data which the supplier is obliged to retain under the contract for the supply of the digital content as well as to data which the supplier has effectively retained in relation to the contract.

Where, following the termination of the contract because of a lack of conformity with the contract, the supplier provides the consumer with the technical means to retrieve the data, the consumer should be entitled to retrieve the data free of any costs. Where the contract is terminated, the consumer should not be required to pay for the use of digital content which is not in conformity with the contract because that would deprive the consumer of effective protection.

Where the digital content provided over a period of time in exchange for a payment of a price, gives rise to the right to terminate, the consumer should be entitled to terminate only the part of the contract which corresponds to the time when the digital content was not in conformity with the contract. However where the digital content is provided against a counter-performance other than money partial termination is not feasible because it is impossible to proportionally apportion a counter-performance other than money.

The consumer should be entitled (de) to terminate any contractual relation that altogether lasts for a period longer than 12 months. In order to prevent any circumvention of this right it should cover any contract which results in the consumer being bound by the contract for more than 12 months, irrespective of whether the contract is of indeterminate duration or is extended automatically or following a subsequent agreement by the parties.