Latest in Copyright

Image credit:

Newly proposed French law does not penalize Apple


First off, I would like to note that this post is an opinion piece, and though it contains facts, the opinions contained therein are definitely biased towards open source, open standards, the freedom of software programmers, and technological innovation.

France's Assemblé Nationale voted in yesterday evening the DADVSI, a rather hideous proposal which will most likely become law when France's Sénat deems it constitutional and President Chirac signs it. Both of the latter are likely as the president is of the same majority right party (UMP) as the Assemblé Nationale. The New York Times (and Slashdot) have noted incorrectly that the law will contain clauses for interoperability required of iTunes and iPods, but those amendments did not make it into the final proposal voted on Thursday night. Read on for a breakdown of the law as it currently awaits, almost certain, approval.

This new law will forbid an individual from providing information about how to break any protection system, or the use of a technology that breaks a protection system. A quick breakdown of the proposed fee structure for breaking this law:

  • 38 Euros: Fine for downloading a copyrighted work, per work.
  • 150 Euros: Fine for sharing a copyrighted work with someone else.
  • 750 Euros: Fine if you have in your possession and/or use a software that bypasses copyright protection.
  • 3,750 Euros: Fine if you write software or provide information about bypassing copyright protection.
  • 30,000 Euros and 6 Months in Prison: Penalty for those making available software or technology that bypasses copyright protection.
  • 300,000 Euros and up to 3 Years in Prison: Penalty for making available any peer to peer software which "knowingly promotes piracy."
An example of a technology that now will be forbidden in France is anything that bypasses DVD encryption. The technology behind bypassing encryption and any information towards that aim is also illegal. Software (free and non free) that bypasses any kind of DRM protection is illegal to create or provide to others. The New York Times' Thomas Crampton writes "The bill, which also proposes to turn individual digital piracy into a violation no more serious than a parking ticket..." If a parking ticket costs up to 750 Euros (for example, having the DeCSS on your computer in any form) then yes, that is true.

DVD playback software (free or non-free), conversion software, backup software, file transfer software, and more are all illegal to create or distribute and carry heavy penalties. For example, making available Mplayer, VLC, Xine and more would cost 30,000 Euros and up to 6 months in prison.

This law also includes hundreds of side addenda. One such add-on will take the restricted size of copyrighted material in schools and research projects to ridiculously low resolutions (400x400 pixels in 72dpi for images) as well as require a large sum payed by the French National Education to authors' rights organizations. The New York Times reported about DADVSI, but only about a clause requiring interoperability of music players which was subsequently removed before ratification on Thursday evening (a link to this New York Times article was also posted on Slashdot).

This law was jokingly nicknamed "Vivendi Universal" by the members of the Assemblé Nationale, and yet was still voted in. All in all the law does not penalize Apple, but with all the open source software available for the Mac platform, it will penalize Apple users.

[via: French article by the Associated Press about Thursday's revisions of the law]

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr