There has been a lot of confusion over a newly proposed French law concerning new intellectual property restrictions, but Wired News has many details of what appears to be a terrible law, that would pretty much dry up any software development in France. This is really too bad for a country that had previously said that downloading was legal and that copy protection on DVDs was illegal (possibly CDs too). However, it would appear that those rulings woke up the entertainment industry, who has lobbied to make these laws as oppressive as the ones in France that fined a security researcher twice for pointing out a security flaw in some software, made it illegal to even link to illegal content, and most famously once wanted to try Yahoo's then CEO as a war criminal. This new law, which has clearly been written up by the entertainment industry, would make software makers liable for the misuse of their software to download unauthorized content. Yes, even if the software has other lawful purposes. Software makers will also have to implement their own copy protection into products -- something most probably have little desire (or resources) to do. Finally, anyone caught downloading unauthorized content may face up to three years in jail and fines of 300,000 euros. Seems like a fairly extreme reaction. Earlier this year, in another case, a man in France was fined for sharing songs, and French musicians responded by signing a petition begging their own industry to stop suing their fans. Those musicians might want to speak up pretty quickly, because the industry may soon have the opportunity to throw their fans in jail as well. Update: But wait... apparently something entirely different was passed instead, that would support that earlier court ruling saying that downloading for non-commercial purposes is perfectly legal. So far, the only report is in French, but the rough translation suggests that some politicians pushed this bill as a very different alternative, and surprised everyone by having it pass. Somehow you get the feeling that we haven't heard the end of this.
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