France Considering Anticircumvention Legislation
“On May 4, the French Senate will debate a copyright bill that is widely expected to have a chilling effect on the development and distribution of open-source software for digital rights management (DRM) or P-to-P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. That’s because the bill’s provisions include a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of €300,000 (US$363,171) for publishing, distributing or promoting software in France that is ‘manifestly intended” for the unauthorized distribution of copyright works.’
“The developers of the open-source multimedia player VLC, which can read DRM-protected DVDs, consider themselves targeted. But the legal uncertainty over the term ‘manifestly intended’ makes the bill’s coverage so broad that it could even cover the open-source Web server Apache, which hosts over 60 percent of Web sites, opponents of the bill say. Open-source projects are thought to be more vulnerable than commercial operations because they typically have few resources at their disposal to defend legal actions.
Peter Sayer. French Could Outlaw Open Source DRM, Peer-to-Peer. InfoWorld. April 14, 2006.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.