originally published on BoingBoing.net

The French Senate will consider a major revision to its copyright law on May 4th, 9th and 10th. This law ("DADVSI") will implement the EUCD (the European equivalent of the DMCA) and change French author's rights and copright. It was voted by the first chamber on Feb 21st. This will be the final parliamentary step of the examination process, as a shortened "emergency procedure" was called on such a crucial subject.

The Senators are grouped by commissions. The "Commission of Cultural Affairs" that is in charge of this law voted for proposed amendments. They were made public a few days ago, and the "rapporteur" (overseer/project leader) of the law, M. Thiollière will defend them so they can be examined and voted during the public debates.

There's bad news for a revolutionary proposal (Article 7) that requires DRM makers to allow anyone to build interoperable technology. This was strenuously objected to by Apple and the US Department of Commerce but it was unanimously voted in at the last moment during the first meeting. Now it stands to be completely neutered:

  • Gone is the requirement that anyone may ask a regular court of justice to force a DRM publisher to give information needed for interoperability. Now a "high regulation authority of technical measures" will have sole discretion as to whether this information will be available.

  • Previously, "information needed for interoperability" covered "technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a copy in an open standard of the copyrighted work, along with its legal information." Now this has been changed to "technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a protected copy of a copyrighted work." But a "protected" version of the work can't be played back in a different player, which means interoperability won't be attained with this clause.

  • Previously, the only condition for receiving information needed for interoperability was to meet the cost of logistics of delivering the information. Now, anyone wanting to build a player will have to take a license on "reasonable and non discriminatory conditions, and an appropriate fee." When using information attained under such a license, you will have to "respect the efficiency and integrity of the technical measure."

  • DRM publishers can demand the retraction of publication of the source-code for interoperable, independent software, if it can prove that the source-code is "harmful to the security and the efficiency of the DRM."

  • A clause put forward by EUCD.INFO (a organization that sprung from the Free Software Foundation France, and whose members helped write this article) has been radically altered. Previously, it stated that "A protocol, a file format, a method of transforming or encrypting information cannot be as such considered as a technical protection measure." Now it has been changed to "The components of a technical measure, like a protocol, a file format, a method of transforming information, are still protected by the article XY." This is an article in the existing French industrial property law describing what is patentable and what isn't. Thus, this clause now imposes software patents on France!

  • Article 7bis has been struck. This Article required DRM publishers to disclose the source-code of their systems to special computer security division of the French Army in charge of military infrastructure.
This all shows that the "Cultural Commission" has failed utterly to come to grips with the social cost of legal protection for DRM -- free competition, protection of innovation, computer security, technological independence, privacy, etc. They've been captured by DRM lobbyists and the content industries. The new Article 7 follows the exact recommendations from Thomson an ex-French company that isn't worth much by now, except for its patents and some DRM project that Microsoft is interested in.

The French Libre Software associations are calling on their members and supporters to contact their Senators and tell them what's wrong with Article 7. STOPDRM.info, a new organization that organized flash-mobs in music superstore and in front of the stockholders-meeting of Vivendi-Universal will continue organizing events and protests. Feel free ask more info by contacting the members of the EUCD.INFO initiative and to come along the anti-DRM march starting at 2PM, Place de la Bastille in Paris, on May the 7th.