I've been watching this issue for a few weeks to see how it'd develop. Today and tomorrow, the French Parliament will debate and vote on a bill known as the DADVSI. In theory, the DADVSI is supposed to bring French copyright law into synch with the EU's recently-passed copyright directive. In reality, however, the DADVSI goes much farther than any current law on the books anywhere, including our own beloved DMCA. If DADVSI passes in its current form, software manufacturers will be required to include DRM software in all software products—not merely those created or intended to facilitate copying data. Furthermore, it will be possible to sue software developers if their products end up being used to distribute content or data illegally, regardless of the intent of the original product.
Put another way, the DADVSI doesn't just mandate the inclusion of DRM, it holds the software developer directly responsible if that DRM is broken and the program is used to distribute content illegally, no matter how innocent or legitimate the original use might be. Jail sentences, fines of up to 300,000 Euros, and forcing ISPs to shut down pirates are some of the penalties.
At one point, French groups SNEP and SCPP (essentially the French version of the RIAA) were quoted as having told free software authors:
"You will be required to change your licenses." SACEM add: "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should the "VU/SACEM/BSA/FA Contents Department" bill proposal pass in the Parliament.
The Wired article referenced above briefly dismisses this possibility, saying "Contrary to news reports earlier this month, France is not expected to try to make open-source software illegal." I've not been able to find more information on that particular point, but it's not hard to see how the DADVSI would have a massive impact on all software development in France, including open-source. Hopefully the French Parliament tosses out this proposal—if they don't, the DMCA is going to look positively friendly by comparison.
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