French law affects copyright, DRM, Apple (Macworld UK)
Posted Jul 13, 2006 20:31 UTC (Thu) by ecureuil
Parent article: French law affects copyright, DRM, Apple (Macworld UK)
The article is a bit misleading.
I doubt that the new French will have much effect on the Linux Desktop.
The Law is quite complex but basically it tackles two problems : fixing
the penal system against peer-to-peer downloading. After much conflict in
the Parliament, the Law stipulates a fine of 49 euros; for downloading and
150 euros; for uploading. It is not clear (and maybe will be explained by
Constitutional Court) if the fine is global (the act of downloading) or
calculated by item downloaded. The first solution seems more plausible
(the second one would be ruinous) and therefore the fine is very low and
will not be a deterrent against users of peer-to-peer networks.
The second topic was the implementation in French Law of the European EUCD
directive which is similar to the DMCA which protect by a system of fines
DRMs After also much conflict in Parliament and a very good lobbying of
the French OpenSource community, DRM are enshrined in French Law but with
a new concept that was absent in the original European text ; they must be
interoperable. Interoperability was much fought against by the different
record lobbies and the final version has been watered down from what the
OpenSource community obtained at some point. The new governmental body
that will supervise interoperability between DRM will be closed to
non-commercial open-source developers. It is more designed to push Apple
to license its DRM system to the smaller French musical online stores than
anything else. There is also a loophole in the text that says that if an
author agrees to prohibit interoperability then the DRM producer is not
obliged to license its code to others. If Apple gets the record companies
to sign a contract stipulating that they agree that what they sell on
Itunes store should not be listened on any other devices than Ipods than
they will be safe.
All in all, the law is an half empty glass. It is hard to know if the new
interoperability body will have much work but it will create a legal
incertainty for DRM and for business models using DRMs and is one more
nail in the DRM coffin. The fact that interoperability has been enshrined
in the Law for the first time is a interesting change and even if
the provisions for interoperability in the Law are not satisfactory at
least it is a beginning.
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