Friday, July 28, 2006

French drm law turns poisonous

The various shenanigans in France surrounding the implementation of the 2001 EU copyright directive have latterly turned poisonous. Jean-Baptiste Soufron has the details:

"Disappearance of Fair Use provisions, new liability of software developers, increased liability of users, compulsory licensing for DRM producers, etc.

To sum it up, the Court decided to censor 4 provisions supposed to protect software developers and internet users...

The Court erases the exception that protected software developers who were specifically working on collaborative software, research or file sharing. Given the decision, any French developers working on such softwares could be sued by DRM producers or copyright holders. Even when it software is intended for non-copyrighted contents. So, no matter whether people use P2P software for some distributed business model or just to share Creative Commons-music, it’s already illegal...

The Court deletes the interoperability exception that was supposed to protect competition and free software developers. Without prior authorization, it will not be possible anymore to develop a software that could interact with DRM-encumbered content. This is true for Free Software developers, but it is also true for start-ups like Archos or Dailymotion...

The Court deletes the system that was punishing internet users with a 38 or 75 euros fine. Consequently, they will be sued under the default procedures and risk up to 5 years and 500 000 euros.

- On top of that, the Constitutional Court decided that it was normal to annihilate the French version of Fair Use. Without regards for the importance of cultural exchange amongst individuals, it even precised that it was normal for DRM producers obstacle à toute copie, which means "to forbid any copy". Nothing less.

All the balance will now depend on the newly created DRM Regulation Authority. This will decide the minimum amount of copies that can be done, etc.

But most importantly, the Law creates a compulsory licensing scheme for DRM producers. When asked, the DRM Regulation Authority can mandate companies like Apple to communicate essential information on their DRM to competitors: le demandeur peut obtenir l’accès aux informations essentielles à l’interopérabilité, meaning that competitors will have the opportunity to ask for essential informations necessary for interoperability.

The Court only precised that they would need to be indemnified for this. To quote them: cette communication devra entraîner leur indemnisation, this communication will have to be indemnified. But the principle is still the same: DRM producers can be mandated to license their technology to competitors.

Given these various points, the DADVSI is by far the hardest internet Law ever passed in the world. It seriously impedes the development of French startups in this sector."

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