French Recording Industry Sues SourceForge For Hosting Open Source P2P

from the yikes dept

It would appear that Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), a group that represents French record labels, is now trying to sue a bunch of non-French file sharing applications, as well as SourceForge. This brings up a lot of different issues, so let’s break them out one by one.

  • This lawsuit came about thanks to a ruling in a French court over how to interpret a French law. SPPF contends that French law says that any application that allows unauthorized file sharing is illegal. However, what was unclear, was whether or not this law could be applied to companies outside of France. The recent ruling found that, indeed, it’s acceptable to extend French laws beyond its borders. This should be seen as hugely problematic just from a jurisdiction standpoint. It’s difficult to see how France can claim that its laws should apply to companies entirely outside of France.
  • Now that it’s been allowed, SPPF is suing three companies who offer software: Vuze, Limewire and Morpheus. What’s troubling is that even beyond an “inducement” standard, SPPF seems to be basing the lawsuits on the idea that if your software allows any unauthorized copying, then the software itself is illegal. Say goodbye to FTP and, well, the entire internet next.
  • Finally, and most bizarrely, SPPF is also suing SourceForge, which is just a hosting platform for open source developers. The problem there (according to SPPF) is that SourceForge hosts the open source Shareaza file sharing app. It would appear that SPPF did so little research in figuring out who to sue, that it seems to think SourceForge is somehow responsible for Shareaza, rather than just hosting it.

Hopefully, the courts will come to their senses and realize, on all three of these issues, that the SPPF is out of line. But given the way some courts (especially in France) have ruled in the past, that seems unlikely.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: limewire, morpheus, sourceforge, sppf, vuze

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Comments on “French Recording Industry Sues SourceForge For Hosting Open Source P2P”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Hopefully, the courts will come to their senses and realize, on all three of these issues, that the SPPF is out of line.”

See there is the mistake right there, people are so arrogant and big headed especially when they hold power that the usually loose any common sense that they had to begin with.

Here is my question, how are they going to enforce these laws? If I am in the U.S. where laws are different how or why should I care what some French judge says and how are they going to do anything to me about it unless they want to break international laws to come and get me, although I guess the U.S. would be just as stupid to listen to them and then just send me over there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“SPPF contends that French law says that any application that allows unauthorized file sharing is illegal.”

are they going to sure Microsoft for Msn?
Yahoo for messenger?
and Aol for messenger as well?
how about ICQ, or mIRC.

all those applications CAN be used for illegal file sharing (except for IRC those aren’t exactly the most efficient way, but they fall in that category)

The infamous Joe says:

Just you wait..

Next they’ll make the leap to suing people who make hardware that runs software that potentially allows you to share files in an unauthorized manner..

..then they’ll sue people who make people who use hardware that runs software that can share files in an unauthorized manner!

SPPF vs. The human race! Booyah!

Cougar357 H4B says:

Re: Just you wait..

You forgot the utility companies that provide the electricity to power the hardware that can run the software that could potentially share files in an unauthorized manner 😉

I completely see your point. It’s like those morons that sued McDonald’s after they spilled hot coffee on themselves and got burned. Usually, when I spill a notoriously hot liquid on myself, it is hot, and I might burn myself. In the real world, that is called being clumsy…not being the victim of a corporate coffee skin burning conspiracy.

Agonizing Fury says:

Time to start my own French recording label

Then I could sue the makers of pretty much any software that allows you to attach or upload/download files. Outlook, FTP, Internet explorer, Firefox, pretty much every useful internet application. I could make millions. Too bad I can’t patent the idea, I could make millions just suing the people who try it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I find it nothing short of amazing that some many persons weigh in with strong opinions (virtually all negative) without even having read a copy of the court opinion referred to in the article. They have no idea what the applicable law states, no idea of relevant prior court decisions that guide the court, no idea what the court actually decided and why, etc.

It has been previously noted on this site that the internet has the salutory effect of stimulating reading. Unfortunately, it does not seem to impart critical thinking skills to many who rely upon it as an important source of information.

In the law we have what is known as the “Best Evidence Rule”, which basically means that the best and most reliable source of information contained in a document is the document itself, and not hearsay recollections by others that may or may not constitute an accurate representation of a document’s contents.

Since I have not read the opinion (a verified English translation of course since I am not fully conversant in French), I intend to reserve judgement unitl I can locate a verified copy and read it.

mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yay, “Anonymous Coward” is a first year law student! He knows a “Best Evidence Rule”, and therefore understands the entire French law system (even though he is not fully conversant in French) and can therefore relate this case better than anyone else.
Sorry, but you are in the same boat as the rest of us. Regardless of your training in American, Canadian, or British law, it does not train you in French law. You are just being an arrogant jerk.

annieimp says:

Re: Re: Re:

Correction – If you wish to practice law in Quebec (Canada) you get the honour (horror?) of studying the Napoleonic code as well as British common law. While, unlike France, Quebec does have the presumption of innocence; for most legal dealings, it is the French system that is used.

One benefit, you are not obliged to take the LSAT if you do not wish to practice outside of Quebec.

Raelynn Marks says:

Re: comment 29

Okay, what? While there is quite a lot of frustrated bashing going on, the point of this article was to open a discussion about whether or not the courts in France actually believe that their laws apply to companies not based within France’s borders. If that is the case, we are discussing possible outcomes and ramifications of this decision, albeit in a mostly negative and disbelieving they-said-what? sort of way. If what you are trying to say is that the people in this forum are idiots for believing this article without seeing the original information for themselves, you might consider the fact that an article is supposed to be a condensation of information from other sources. You could, if you wished to be more helpful in “imparting critical thinking skills,” abstain from commenting until you found said outside sources, and then perhaps posted links to them. Or, you could go be an arrogant prick on someone else’s website, leaving this particular doorway undarkened by your pointless criticism.

mike42 (profile) says:

Seriously, though

Since the government of France sees fit to allow a lawsuit against SourceForge, I think SourceForge (and any other websites concerned with filesharing, or freedom in general) should filter all French IPs. If the French people care, they will change the law. If they don’t care, then there’s no loss. There’s just no reason (that I can think of) to expose a great hosting site like SourceForge to a risk like this.
I further think that this should go for any country (or state) who tries to push their law onto the internet. It’s a cheap and easy way (IMHO) to deal with this type of thing, Kentucky included!

Bunny says:


It looks like even if RIAA is defeated in every court case in the U.S. and the laws are returned to the realm of sanity, the record companies will just use their RIAA counterpart in another country to work some jurisdiction magic over the internet. They can continue distorting the laws elsewhere and getting posse authorization elsewhere.

As far as precendents are concerned, the U.S. already tried to shut down foreign gambling sites, so the internet jurisdiction issue is nothing new… and certainly not unique to France. China also is waging online attacks against torrent index sites outside of its borders. Seems kind of like the wild west, doesn’t it?

Every country wants jurisdiction over everything but doesn’t want to give up its own jurisdiction. At some point this conflict will reach a crisis and the leaders will meet in a smoke-filled room and try to resolve their differences, but since they are all ignorant they will draw up yet another imperfect agreement designed to breathe life into obsolete revenue models and the rest of us will be screwed over for another decade.

I wonder how many sales of music will be lost now that people the world over, fuming over the loss of services and freedoms unrelated to music, are going to be actively wishing the record companies to disappear?

Anonymous Coward says:

limewire and other p2p programs doesn’t HAVE to share illegal content. the programs were created to share, Whether its open source or not. Its the people who are sharing the content, not limewire. if French care so much about it, why don’t they just take it to the French government, and force a filter on the French ISP’s to block this, instead of trying to sue companies outside of France. IDIOTS!

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmmm- I agree go for the IP's

Lets go for it – cut away their SF privileges (wouldn’t that be the whole SF network, including /.?). Redirect them to a page explaining what the case is, and that until it is sorted, they cannot access or download SF software. All the filesharing stuff can do it too.

Also I will stop buying French music – simple. I don’t listen to any of that crap already! I mean seriously, do they really think the rest of the world want to share there pointless shit?

pcolon says:

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

ACTA, a multi-lateral treaty currently being discussed secretly behind closed doors, might export the dangerous IPRED1 directive to the United States, which allow patent trolls in Europe to preventively freeze bank accounts of a company in case of “suspicion of infringement”.

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