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A French law project harder than DMCA ?
By a member of the hurd, Section News
Posted on Sat May 10th, 2003 at 11:01:51 GMT

The details of the upcoming french law to implement the EUCD (the European equivalent of the DMCA) were leaked to the public[1] by AEL, a Belgium non-for-profit organisation.

France, the original country of "droit d'auteur" is taking a path that leads it very far away from the original spirit advocated by Victor Hugo two centuries ago.


Although the EUCD is considered harmful to the rights of the public, it is generally considered less dangerous than the DMCA. For instance, the EUCD does not say that it is forbidden to talk about circumvention of technical measures. However, the French Ministry of culture proposed an implementation of the EUCD for France that carries that restriction (free translation):

"Article 12: Is considered a counterfeit:

1) The fact that a person purposedly (or with reasonable ground to think she will) circumvents any technical measure protecting a work [...]
2) The act of manufacturing, importing, selling, lending, renting, providing any technology, product, device, apparel or component, or providing any service, information, mean designed for the purpose or having the consequence to facilitate or enable the implementation, in all or in part, of one of the facts described in 1).
3) The act of ordering, designing, organizing, reproducing, distributing, publicizing, bring to the attention of a third party, directly or indirectly any technology, product, device, apparel, component, service or mean in order to enable the implementation in all or in part of the actions described in 1) and 2). "

The scary part can be summarized shortly as "The act of providing information having the consequence to partly facilitate or enable the circumvention of a technical measure is a counterfeit". The scope is so broad that it can virtually include anything more or less related to a technical measure, as long as it can be applied on a copyrighted work.

It is generally understood that researchers should not be bound by such restrictions. It would basically cripple all research related to cryptography or security. However, the French Ministry of Culture does not grant such an exception to schools and research centres. From the long debate that addressed this issue back in December 2002[2], one can conclude that it did so to satisfy the pressing requests of the French representatives of the media industry.

It looks like France is on the verge of having the most crippled "droit d'auteur" in Europe, disastrously ending centuries of good reputation.


[1] 4 April 2003, law project, http://www.ael.be/action/2003/eucd/france/

[2] 5 December 2002, CSPLA debate, http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/cspla/cr051202.pdf

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