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.