Surprises

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
distribution, france, gpl, open source, riaa



Why The RIAA May Want To Side With Open Source Developers In France

from the what-is-distribution-anyway? dept

We all know that the RIAA has been pushing for a certain definition of what constitutes "distribution" online these days (which the courts are still in flux over). An anonymous reader points to a case in France that the RIAA may want to pay attention to -- where it may find itself siding with some strange bedfellows: open source developers. Apparently, some of open source developers have sued the large French ISP Free/Iliad for failing to offer up the software used in the 3 million routers that customers use, despite the fact that it includes GPLed software (which requires that any software you distribute also be available to others for free). The ISP has responded by claiming that it hasn't actually distributed the software, since the routers are still officially a part of its own network -- and therefore the software doesn't have to be offered up.

In other words, simply giving the routers to users doesn't count as distribution in his definition -- which would certainly go against the RIAA's "making available is distribution" claim). However, as the link above suggests, it could get even worse. If you follow the same definition that Free/Iliad is making, then an ISP could purchase a site license for certain applications or content and then let everyone on its "network" access it, since it wouldn't be "distributing" it. Thus, suddenly, it may be in the RIAA's best interest to side with a bunch of open source developers before the definition of "distribute" in France gets defined in a way that the RIAA wouldn't much appreciate.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2008 @ 10:36am

    # 2 Is Right

    This has nothing to do with the "making available" claim if the users don't have access to the router (as in able to change settings, etc).

    For example in the hospitality industry there are several network management companies. In most, the hotel owns the hardware but not even the GM has access to log in to it.

    It is the difference between Hardware and Software. You can replace the firmware on any router with whatever firmware you want. Just look at the homebrew type firmware for the Linksys WRT54GS and other wireless access points.

    It is all down to contracts. IF certain SPECIFIC users are granted access, then those SPECIFIC users are supposed to have the ability to download the GPL'd software.

    Unless the routers are completely unprotected they don't need to have a link on their website for it.

    At least that is true if the RIAA's "making available" theory is bunk, which it is but time will tell if the law recognizes common sense.

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