I posted on a confusing story out of France awhile back, and asked for clarification. Now, there's a good story on what's going on here. As it happens, France (and Spain, for that matter) are in the process of codifying an EU directive on copyright law from 2001. The issue comes up based on a few potentially troublesome aspects of that law - troublesome for OSS advocates and for commercial vendors alike. Here's what the OSS side doesn't like:
One proposal would require that all software enforce digital rights management, or DRM, a sort of digital lock intended to prevent illegal copying.
"This would basically undermine the fundamental principles of open-source software," said Loïc Dachary, vice president of the Free Software Foundation France, who is a software developer for Mekensleep, a Paris video game maker.
Based on how vendors currently want to "help" us with DRM (Sony and Microsoft come to mind), I think this is a terrible idea. It will bring all the worst aspects of the DMCA to Europe, in my opinion. The vendors have their own issues with the proposed law:
One would require software makers to show competitors the underlying source code of any DRM components in their products. The other would make software makers liable for damages from entertainment companies or artists even if their software were altered by criminals to perform illegal copying.
"We are very concerned about these two proposed amendments," said Francisco Mingorance, director of public policy in Brussels for Business Software Alliance Europe.
A sponsor of the French legislation, however, played down the concerns expressed by both factions as exaggerated and said lawmakers would ultimately strike the right balance between business and open-source interests. "What you are hearing now is a lot of nervousness as the legislation moves closer to a vote," said Senator Michel Thiollière, the main sponsor of the copyright legislation in the French Senate, which will vote on the issue in January. "I believe lawmakers will ultimately find the balance to protect the rights of artists and to preserve the best possible access for people who want to legally enjoy the Internet."
The danger is, since both OSS advocates and vendors have problems with the proposed law, it could easily be seen as the sort of "valid compromise" that makes everyone a little unhappy (excepting the RIAA and their European brethern, of course). This sounds like a train wreck law - let's hope it gets derailed.