Does French Three Strikes Law Also Mandate Movie Release Windows?

from the if-so,-why? dept

The EFF points us to a story claiming that the Blu-ray edition of the movie Avatar is being released earlier than the studio would like due to France's three strikes law. The article claims that, while most folks have concentrated on the three strikes part, the law also requires limited release windows, such that studios need to release films on DVD within a certain time period after theatrical release. I certainly had not heard this, and some challenged the claim in the comments, but the original blogger points to the specific language in the statute. While some others point out that the window for release is pretty large (longer than pretty much every other movie ever uses), it makes you wonder why France is legislating this at all. I'm all for shorter movie release windows -- and think studios should get rid of the windows for the most part -- but I can't fathom how it could make sense to mandate a specific time for release windows in the law.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dan, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    "but I can't fathom how it could make sense to mandate a specific time for release windows in the law."

    Simple. The shorter the release window, the shorter the time of temptation to download illegally.

    I think it's great. If the studios want something, make them give up something in return. If we did that in America, Big Entertainment might be a little more careful what they ask for, instead of it being so one sided.

     

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  2.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    It's similar to the logic that you've pointed out in a few court rulings in the past (I think Jammie Thomas might have been one, in the comments about how they should have made a fair use defense). Somewhere I remember reading a judge saying that they would consider something like "the availability of the material through legal means", suggesting that tracks downloaded from filesharing services pre-iTunes would be more excusable than those downloaded now.

    I remember furling my brow a little bit at that logic, and it seems that France is trying to do something similar. I believe they are saying that it might be excusable for people to download movies if they aren't being made available for purchase in a timely fashion.

    It does indeed seem a bit odd.

     

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  3.  
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    I Love TAM, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    Hey Mike, the length of the Techdirt Crystal Ball window is not written into law, are you going to make it shorter?

    Remember, "you'll be able to see it up to 60 minutes before anyone else can". Oh yeah - I'm gonna drop $15 on that... if I don't die laughing first.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:28pm

    Re:

    I miss the days when trolls used to have style.

     

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  5.  
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    Three strikes and you're out, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:29pm

    I wonder ...

    With four balls - do you walk ?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:30pm

    With any luck, the three-strike law will also mandate films have three plot breaks at regular minute intervals. This will allow movie patrons to take a piss, buy a baguette and cheese platter from the concession stand, smoke a Gauloise, or whatever the hell it is that french people do while at the theater.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:45pm

    Re: I wonder ...

    Sure, but it looks a little funny. Oh, you meant baseball.

     

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  8.  
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    Knucklehead Crusher, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 8:48pm

    Ahhh France...

    Ahhh the French. They've long forgiven Germany for destroying them twice but have yet to forgive the U.S. for liberating them the same amount of times....Let France and the EU legislate and litigate itself into history where their only real film directors and artists have long been lying in state.

    - Jerry Lewis

     

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  9.  
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    Rich, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Exactly.. I was thinking that myself.

     

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  10.  
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    Rich, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 9:29pm

    @s about right

    My guess is, this is just a little show so the people think exactly what @Dan said. As in see you got something out of it! We wouldn't just give these already ridiculously powerful companies the nod to circumvent your fundamental human rights and not give something back do you? Look at how burdensome it is.. hear them lament at having to cope with these strict loosely defined requests with no penalty for non-compliance...

    France.. I hope your next revolution goes well..

     

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  11.  
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    :), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 10:06pm

    Beat a little boy and give him a candy!

    They beat your rights to a pulp and give you candy how nice of them.
    That is so majestic :)

     

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  12.  
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    KGWagner (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    I guess if you're going to write an idiotic law, you may as well go full-tilt boogie. It's all bread and circuses anyway.

     

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  13.  
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    Idobek (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    The concept has potential

    It is, possibly, a step in the right direction.

    -Imagine release windows were the sole reason for piracy.
    -Recording industry wants 3 strikes law to combat piracy.
    -Legislators determine release windows the reason for piracy.
    -Law introduced the introduces 3 strikes and abolishes release windows.
    -3 strikes law never has to be used.
    -Sunset clause on 3 strikes law kicks in a few years down the line and it quietly drops away.

    Obviously the issues are for more complex and the legislators baulked but this could be a good way for legislation to work in the free market's favour. If industry's want protection they have to sacrifice something.

     

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  14.  
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    Brandon, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    It gets better

    I followed this issue closely last fall, but haven't watched as closely since, so things may have changed. BUT if I remember correctly, the French bill also requires rightsholders to devise a system of DRM interoperability, and will ban DRM if interoperability is not achieved by a very short deadline (I forget the date, but it's within a year or two of the bill's passage). The result could be the end of DRM on the continent.
    Release windows are a big deal in France, I believe, and the change was heralded as a big concession when the bill was passed. Another commenter pointed this out, but the idea is to force more media into legit circulation in more formats, undercutting the motive/rationale for illicit sharing. The DRM thing is part of the same strategy. They're saying to the studios, "OK, we'll give you this nuclear option, but you have to give us more of your stuff, in more formats, more quickly." Sad that this is something the government had to extract, rather than the studios' natural inclination.

     

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  15.  
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    Dan, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:22am

    Re: @s about right

    Yes, I agree the whole concept looks better in theory then in practice. Meaning both the shortened window reduces downloading, and the studios actually releasing movies early via a government mandate. We'll see.

    But I do like the idea. My favorite application of it would be, giving Big Entertainment everything they want and in exchange copyright has a 15 year limit. No extensions. That would fly like a winged pig.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re:

    0 to name calling in 3 minutes - nice one.

    Mike likes to have his commentary on release windows. Most of the time he talks about eliminating them. At the same time he has his own release window. Mike claims that his window is not a window but an inside view of how things work for those that want to buy it. I'd argue that the theater experience is not a release window, its a going out and seeing a movie experience, PPV is not a release window its an opportunity for those that want it to get an early view, DVD is not a release window its the general release.

    Why is it that windows work for Mike and not for anyone else?

     

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  17.  
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    Rooker, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Awesome, if true.

    It would be very nice if that forces studios to bump up the release dates in the US too. I'm sick of waiting six months or more to see new movies. I got tired of $10.00 popcorn, ads playing when the movie ought to be starting and rooms of 100+ people who can't shut their mouths during a movie and quit going to theaters.

    Avatar was the first movie I've seen on anything but DVD since Return of the King. Sincerely hoping all the talk of 3D at recent tech trade shows means that future 3D movies can be watched in 3D at home.

     

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  18.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I agree that theatre is a valuable experience in itself, which is exactly the argument against release windows. I have no idea how you can argue that PPV is an "early view" and not a release window, when it clearly comes after the theatre release. And DVD is indeed the general release, existing in its own window.

    Do you have the Crystal Ball? If you did, I think you would understand how different it is.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    My point is that we can call windows what they are or we can try to describe them away, at the end of the day they did not change they just got explained differently.

    For those of us that do not have the Crystal Ball, why doesnt someone explain how its different? Or better yet, explain how it is not a window. It is simply a window with benefits that are unique to that window, just like the theater experience is a window that has unique benefits. I'm still not clear on why windows can work for Techdirt and not for others.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dont have the Crystal Ball but might pay $0.02 for an 'Outsider' badge.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    A lot of the stories that are in the Crystal Ball never make it to the real feed. So you can make the argument that it is a window, but you are only somewhat right.

     

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