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You gotta love the French: Killing the DMCA and stamping on roach motels

I don’t know the ins and outs of this legislation yet, but according to Silicon.com there are moves afoot in France to allow customers to break DRM if it prevents them playing on the device of their choice.
 
If the legislation passes, it will be great for French digital content. Hopefully this French interpretation will be adopted more broadly in Europe. The DMCA leads to too many chilling effects.
 
For music company dunces that are bound to cry foul, the legislation apparently also introduces the notion of spot fines for downloading, or posting, digital content illegally, so its not just a sop to pirates. Rather it seems to be an example of legislation that puts the person paying to listen to music in control, if they don’t abuse the copyright holder. A $40 fine for personal downloading seems a lot more reasonable than some of the absurd punitive penalties put forward by representatives of Big Media in the US.
 
Oh and for those that say France has no business rethinking copyright for the digital age – you should know they invented it in the first place: droite, d’auteurs indeed.
 
One very interesting part of the law is that France plans to make it illegal to tie a music service to a particular player. That means Apple will potentially need to rethink iTunes in France. See Microsoft, those crazy Europeans don’t just pick on you. They are equal opportunities troublemakers. If you thought it was bad you couldn’t include a media player in the operating system, now you can’t tie media services to Plays For Sure.
 
Wait. What is that great sucking sound I hear? Oh it must be the sound sound of lawyers and lobbyists descending on Brussels and Paris…
 
This is going to get very interesting. I am waiting to see what Cory says, though, to work out whether Silicon is reading the runes right, given that as recently as December it looked like France was going to enter a DRM ice age brought on by the European Copyright Directive (EUCD).
 
 

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4 Responses

  1. James,

    I wish it was so simple. We are in a very confused situation -where it is clear that the French MEP’s are not competent enough to debat of high-tech.

    The current right allows EVERYONE to make a copy of recorded art one buys, for one’s own personal use.

    The proposed law would assimilate circumventing DRM mechanisms to hacking and piracy.

    The gauging of music buyers by the big majors is not over…

  2. Wow, maybe its time to put down my “Freedom Fries” and toast the Pommes Frites.

  3. OK, this is getting confusing. I’ve had a brief exchange(1) with a French blogger about this. He was commenting on an article in Le Monde(2) which clears things up somewhat.

    The first bit of nonsense is that the assembly voted on the 15th March to change the definition of the right of personal copy from “at least 1″ to “zero”.

    This was pushed through against huge opposition to support another part of the law. The specific fair-use rights will be decided by a “college of mediators” who will decide the rights on a per-media basis.

    The point of opening the door to zero-copy legislation was to (cynically) allow the college of mediators to set the personal copy rights of DVDs to zero. They are obviously bowing to the interests of big business and are using a legal precedent set quite recently in the French courts when a consumer sued a network because he claimed the DRM software on the DVD he had purchased went against his right to copy for personal use.

    So really, capital wins again and the French consumer’s sphincter will continue to be as sore as ours :-(

    1) http://alan.petitepomme.net/blog/index.html
    2)http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-651865,36-751205@51-747848,0.html



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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Now le iPod Francais doit jouer le music from anywhere

    James Governor’s MonkChips: You gotta love the French: Killing the DMCA and stamping on roach motels I love James’ writing. He describes the French as equal opportunities troublemakers — très fin, mon cher;-)…