DADVSI code : Vivendi Universal strikes back, fight the Dark Side of copyright with us !
Following a public email from Gerald (FFII France) about the french project law related to copyright in the digital era (known as DADVSI).
Debates on the 1st chamber of French Parliament (National Assembly) have ended last night at 4:00am. Now there should be a vote on the text amended next Tuesday. Then the text will go to the 2nd chamber (Senate). And a comittee of 7 politians of each chamber will finalize the text in a kind of conciliation procedure.
Results of amendments voted by National Assembly is very mixed.
On the bad side, the government has cancelled amendment voted in December that would have legalized p2p download. There is now a so-called "progressive repression", that punishes file download with a EUR 38 fine; file upload with a EUR 150 fine; usage of means to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 750 fine; creation of means to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 3,750 fine; publishing of means or information to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 30,000 fine and 6 months of prison. Also no exception for education has been accepted, government has preferred to pass some contracts that have been signed during the examination of the law and appeared to be very insufficient.
On the very dark side, there was the adoption of the so-called "Vivendi-Universal" amendement that punishes with EUR 300,000 fine and 3 years of prison the publishing of a software "obviously intended" to provide to public some unauthorised copyrighted works. There is a subamendment that nullify this one by excluding every software that can be used to exchange non-copyrighted work. But it doesn't prevent threats from right-holders. Anyway, this amendement in criminal law is likely to be rejected because it's unconstitutional. But there is also a part for civil law, which could forbid any publishing of such a software which wouldn't included DRM. And for this civil part, there is no nullifying sub-amendement. Also a major decision was that right to private copy is subject to decision from a newly created "mediation" committee, who is allowed to fix the number of authorised copy, which can be as low as zero in case of DVD !
On the good side, there are exceptions for deficient people, libraries and press. The creation of a public downloading site for young creators that are not on the commercial download websites. The choice by authors of the way to publish their work (yes this was not garanteed by the original proposal), including to provide them without payment. Also are excluded from penalities circumvention of a DRM if the objective is for research, interoperability or security.
On the very good side, in a last theatral move at 2am this morning, deputies have had a second deliberation on the article that defines DRMs (actually as written in EUCD "effective technical measures of protection"). On December there was already an amendment excluding from this definition, any protocol, format, or method for scrambling, encrypting or modifying. Also in December, an amendment included some kind of Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (RAND) licence, and the appeal had to be made with a Competivity Council, which is something out-of reach for non-commercial entities and SMEs. And this night, interoperability was secured, with very good amendments forbiding a DRM to prevent interoperability. Also anyone can resquest a judge to force DRM providers to give information for interoperability at no costs but logistical ones. Also an amendment was voted to allow publication of source code of any independant software that interoperate with a DRM.
These last amendments have been negociated with MPs from right and left wings. They were proposed by EUCD.info, ac initiative by French chapter of Free Software Fundation, which has coordinated the lobbying on this law. I'm very proud and happy that FFII and FFII.fr has supported EUCD.info. The text is still bad, and we still need some effort to get it rejected. But in the current context, having garanteed interoperability is a major result.
To finish this report, I have to say that the lack of democracy in the procedure and heavy "industrial" lobbying has disgusted lots of supporters (with what we have lived with the swpats directive, I'd say that I've been used to "inelegancies"). In this battle it was confirmed that France has a very bad separation of powers (something I've also experimented when trying to get support from French Parliament against Council political agreement). The Parliament has no power on the legislative agenda (nearly impossible to pass motions!) and it has been shown during DADVSI that Parliament was mere a recording chamber of governments decisions. Also, a few day before the examination of amendment, a decision from a high court has anticipated that there was no right to make private copy of a DVD. This decision was referred to when an amendment has been dropped (not even voted, just dropped by rapporteur and government), which would have fix the minimum number of private copies to... one!
As said in the introduction, the fight is not over. The legislative procedure continues...
You can also read this article from the New York Times about the interoperability issue, an analysis by EDRI, a paper about the Vivendi amendment or this post of Cory Doctorow about the original DADVSI bill, . You can help us by sending a a letter to our President and Prime Minister and ask to your neighborhood to do the same.