French Movement Seeks Annulment on Anti-DRM Fines

APRIL (l’Association pour la Promotion et la Recherche en Informatique Libre) has taken action (PDF) before the French Supreme court.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The action requests an annulment of a decree that “introduces a maximum €750 fine for possession and use of DRM circumvention technologies”. The decree would otherwise be introduced into the French Copyright laws ((Dadvsi) in article R 335-3.

According to, a recently opened blog which translates the on-going copyright scene from French to English, APRIL argues that the fine for merely possessing an anti-DRM (Digital Rights Management) device/program “imposes an unfair and disproportionate threat on users of open source software and the whole movement of open source software”

The argument appears to be similar to that of DVD Jon’s case where Linux users wished to view DVD’s on their non-proprietary Operating System. In order for that to occur, the DVD’s CSS (Content Scrambling System) had to be broken first. This was something the movie industry deemed as illegal and filed a lawsuit against him in Europe. The EFF stepped in and effectively helped win the case for DVD Jon. Since then, DVDs have been much more playable, thanks to anti-circumvention technology for non-proprietary players.

While arguing for the annulment of the decree, APRIL cites Article 6-1 of the EUCD which provides the following: “Member States shall provide adequate legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures, which the person concerned carries out in the knowledge, or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that objective.” They point out that “in the knowledge or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that objective” should be punished is not in that decree.

APRIL also argues that this breaches the right to interoperability and that open source users could be denied an equal access to e-government. They also say that members of the French Parliament, the judiciary and the police could be the first to face criminal prosecution, the decree breaches the constitution, and provides legal uncertainty for open source software.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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