Consumers of copy-protected CDs and DVDs face security risks to their equipment, unfair limitations on their use of products and unreasonable contract terms, according to the National Consumer Council (NCC), which is calling for new legislation.

In a submission this week to an MP's inquiry into Digital Rights Management (DRM), the NCC says the current self-regulation of DRM is not working.

It says the increased use of DRM technology in everyday products such as DVDs, CDs and music downloads is hindering consumers' enjoyment. Consumers are finding that they can't play DVDs that they have bought abroad or make compilations of material that they have purchased for their own use.

Most online music downloads are protected by DRM systems which can prevent or limit consumers' ability to transfer the music on to other computers they own or to portable listening devices. The wide variety of systems and proprietary formats often leads to compatibility problems with players. This means that consumers who wish to change their music service providers or playback devices are often obliged to repurchase music files in a different format.

In the NCC's opinion, not only is the use of DRM constraining the legitimate consumer use of digital content, but it is also undermining existing consumer rights under consumer protection and data protection laws.

The recent Sony BMG case supports the NCC's opinion.

In December 2005 Sony BMG settled a class action lawsuit filed over its release of music CDs that, when played on PCs, installed potentially damaging copy-control software.