Apple not happy, but French may be on right track

(San Fransisco Chronicle) "It's not a recipe for piracy," said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a Washington digital-rights group. "It's a recipe for competition, which is what Apple really doesn't like."

French Copyright Law Victory to the Movie Industry

( Paris Studio Canal and Universal Pictures have won a significant legal fight in the war against DVD copying, and the legal right to use technology to prevent such actions.

March, 25th, 2006

Apple's Demand For A State-Sponsored Monopoly Shows That DRM Aims To Stop Competition, Not Piracy

(US - Information Week) Apple accuses France of “state-sponsored piracy”, because a copyright bill currently going through the French parliament would require DRM vendors to open their technology to competitors. In reality, France is just trying to avoid the situation in the U.S., where the lobbyist-written Digital Millennium Copyright Act has made interoperability illegal.

March, 24th, 2006

US commerce chief backs Apple over French law

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez backed angry protests by Apple Computer over a new French law that would throw open Apple's popular online music store to competitors.

Apple says proposed French law smacks of piracy

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

The National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament, passed the law on Tuesday, which French officials said is aimed at preventing any one company from building a grip on the digital online music retail market.

March, 22nd, 2006

As Reuters wrote the french draft copyright law voted by the National Assembly yesterday «requires that online music retailers such as iTunes provide the software codes that protect copyrighted material -- known as digital rights management (DRM) -- to allow the conversion from one format to another.».

Bloomberg has more information about that : «The French bill calls for companies that implement copyright protection measures to supply the information essential to interoperability to those interested at no other charge than the cost of delivering the data. The bill allows the publication of computer code and technical documentation for third-party interoperability software».

French lawmakers Richard Cazenave and Bernard Carayon, who voted the bill, said to «The passed legislation provides consumers "a fundamental right to read" content that they purchase on any device". But PC World reports that according to Patrick Bloche, a deputy who opposed the bill : «Other measures in the bill could "threaten the development of free and open-source software. The bill's restrictions on the ways third-party software can interact with proprietary DRM systems mean that French open-source software developers and researchers will lose out»

A anonymous commenter on Boing Boing adds «The proposed law shuts down the "private copying" right, but continues to add levies to the costs of blank CDs, DVDs, flash drives and hard drives, to compensate artists for "private copying." So the French get charged for a right that they don't get to exercise. The "Vivendi amendments" punish "knowingly publishing," in any form, a device or software clearly aimed at unauthorized diffusion of copyrighted works with a maximum of three years in jail and 300,000€ in fines. Although there is an exception for "software for computer-supported cooperative work, for research, for exchange of files not protected by copyright", the question is: Are ftp, web, email, and irc programs protected by the exception, as they can clearly be used to exchange protected files without authorization? Developers of such software know that their work can be used for illegal exchanges and still publish their apps, could they be sued for that ? »

The International Herald Tribune points out that «the bill also introduces relatively lenient penalties for digital piracy by individuals, with proposed fines of €38 to €150, or $46 to $181.The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group representing almost 1,500 members in the recording industry, reacted cautiously to the French plan. The group said that while it supported the "interoperability" of different devices, the French proposal failed to define precisely what that means. The group, known as the IFPI, also raised concerns that the fines for pirating music must be clarified so that "one act cannot be interpreted to cover multiple files. It is crucial that any fines for the illegal exchange of music on unauthorized peer-to-peer services should be genuinely a deterrent," the IFPI said.».

According to the Financial Times, Fransisco Mingorance, European director of policy at the Business Software Alliance (BSA), whose members include Apple, Microsoft and Adobe «warned that a weakened iTunes would reopen the door to pirate music sites, which have been hurt by the success of Apple's integrated iTunes and iPod, as well as by lawsuits against illegal downloaders.». Mark MacGann, director general of the European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association (EICTA), a trade group in Brussels whose members include Apple, Microsoft and Sony said to the New York Times «You cannot decide overnight to create a nirvana» as Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said to Reuters «The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy».

Strange when the Register spits «As it is, digital music consumers may in the future enjoy the privilege of being mugged in a consistent manner» and when Hollywood reporters report that the main consumer group in France, UFC-Que Choisir, «welcomed the government's decision to ensure that digital music can be accessed on any player regardless of its format or source but criticized the new fines that the bill sanctions for illegally downloading films and music from the Internet as being "too harsh".»

Last but not least, Commons-Law published «A Call for Civil Disobedient for Pedagogical Exception in France» stating «Considering the shamefully regressive and repressive nature of these new agreements in matters of teaching and research, thousands of scholars and teachers, including elected members of the Conseil National des Universités (CNU), undergraduate and graduate students, and many others committed to maintaining educational policies of high standard and international reknown, hereby declare a campaign of civil disobedience!''».

According to Business Week : «the legislation now has to be debated and voted by the Senate -- a process expected to begin in May.»

Good luck senators !