Market: What the EU Data Act means for players in the printing industry

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“Data Act”, the new EU regulation to “create uniform rules for fair access to and use of data” may sound unimpressive at first – but it has what it takes to “revolutionize the relationship between printing press manufacturers and printers”, says Dr. Martin Schirmbacher, specialist lawyer for IT law at Härting Rechtsanwälte. But what does he mean? What does the Data Act actually say and what should print service providers and press manufacturers do now?

The EU Data Act came into force in January 2024 and is to be applied in large parts starting in mid-September 2025. At its core, the new regulation revolves around the use of and access to data collected through the use of networked products or connected services. The aim is to make this more transparent and easier for those companies that contribute to the collection of this data through the operation or use of such a connected product. In the future, manufacturers will be held more accountable and will not simply be able to rely on the protection of trade secrets. If you want to know more about the exact and general regulations in the Data Act, we recommend the blog post by Dr. Martin Schirmbacher and Marcus Czempinski on the Härting website (in German).

The relationship between machine manufacturers and printers is changing

If you transfer the key data of the new EU regulation to the printing industry, it quickly becomes clear that it is likely to change a lot, especially for printing press manufacturers. This is because modern printing presses are by definition networked products thanks to their sensors, which monitor production in many ways, as well as their integration into a communication service, such as the cloud. Under certain conditions, this can also apply to offline printing presses, as Schirmbacher and Czempinski explain in another article (in German) using the printing industry as an example. It is also not uncommon for machine manufacturers to collect information about the production volumes that print shops produce on their machines.

Machine manufacturers need a separate contract if they want to use the data themselves

The Data Act that has now been passed shifts the situation at precisely this point, because as soon as the regulation applies – which will be the case from mid-September 2025 – the user of the printing press, i.e. the print shop, will have the exclusive right to the data generated by the printing press, according to the article written by the lawyers. The manufacturer of the printing press may then only use the data for its own purposes and evaluations on the basis of a contract – a data license. The data may also only be passed on to third parties with the printing company’s consent.

In addition, machine manufacturers must ensure that their machines are designed and data is recorded in such a way that it is “easily, securely, free of charge and accessible as standard in a comprehensive, structured, commonly used and machine-readable format, if possible even directly via the machine itself”, explain the two lawyers. It is also important that manufacturers only have to grant access to the data that they have stored – while at the same time there is no storage obligation for manufacturers.

According to Dr. Martin Schirmbacher, it is important to note that the data covered by the Data Act is exclusively information generated by the machine’s sensors and not data from CRM systems.

If the user, i.e. the print shop, wants to assert its right to access the data, the manufacturer must not make this dependent on a data license agreement, as it needs one in order to be able to use the data for itself.

Large printing companies in particular are evaluated differently

However, there could also be a possible restriction for print shops. This is because they only have the right to access data if they are not a gatekeeper within the meaning of the Digital Markets Act, which should prevent large market players in particular from gaining access to even more data. In other words, large print stores in particular need to be considered separately and carefully when it comes to the Data Act.

How could print shops benefit from the Data Act?

As the two lawyers explain in their article, access to the data will give print shops more precise insights into the performance of their machines in the future, enabling them to draw conclusions about efficiency, speed or necessary maintenance work.

According to Dr. Martin Schirmbacher, there are generally two camps of interest at this point: while the press manufacturers want to give out as little information as possible in order to maintain their competitiveness, the print shops want to draw their conclusions from the data as to how things are going.

Printing press manufacturers still have some time, until mid-September 2025 to be precise, to implement the requirements of the new law. However, Dr. Martin Schirmbacher advises all those involved to get to grips with this at an early stage. It will therefore be interesting to see how the Data Act will actually be implemented in reality and how the relationship between press manufacturers and print shops will change.

If you would like to find out more details about the new EU regulation, you can find the detailed article by Dr. Martin Schirmbacher and Marcus Czempinski here: https://haerting.de/wissen/die-druckbranche-anwendungsfall-data-act/

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Market: What the EU Data Act means for players in the printing industry
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Market: What the EU Data Act means for players in the printing industry
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"Data Act", the new EU regulation to "create uniform rules for fair access to and use of data" may sound unimpressive at first - but it has what it takes to "revolutionize the relationship between printing press manufacturers and printers", says Dr. Martin Schirmbacher, specialist lawyer for IT law at Härting Rechtsanwälte. But what does he mean? What does the Data Act actually say and what should print service providers and press manufacturers do now?
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Beyond-print.net

Für viele in der Druckindustrie ist sie keine Unbekannte: Fast 14 Jahre lang war Judith Grajewski für das Fachmagazin Deutscher Drucker tätig; hat als Redakteurin vor allem über den Wachstumsmarkt Digitaldruck berichtet, als Online-Verantwortliche das Portal print.de und die Social-Media-Kanäle mit aufgebaut und sich als „Transaction Editor“ mit Content-Management- und Marketingstrategien beschäftigt. Nach einem kurzen Intermezzo als Chefredakteurin des Werbetechnik- und LFP-Fachportals Sign&Print beim schwedischen AGI-Verlag, bleibt die studierte Dipl.-Ing. für Medientechnik (FH) ihrer Leidenschaft für Print treu und widmet sich nun der Beratung und Projektbegleitung von Druckunternehmen auf ihrem Weg in eine digitalisierte Zukunft. Darüber hinaus gibt sie als Redaktionsleiterin von Beyond Print regelmäßig Einblick in relevante Themen des E-Business Print. (Profil bei Xing, LinkedIn)

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