French law mandates open DRM

France has a new digital copyright law, which both makes DRM the law of the land and requires a certain level of interoperability between DRM vendors.

France has a new digital copyright law, which both makes DRM the law of the land and requires a certain level of interoperability between DRM vendors, InfoWorld reports. The new law could affect Apple's FairPlay DRM, as well as Microsoft's.

Although the bill will force DRM manufacturers to reveal some details of their systems, it will also legalize the use of DRM in France. Today, CDs with a DRM function that prevents them from playing on some equipment are considered legally to have concealed flaws, and buyers have a right to legal redress. The bill will change that.

In addition, the bill will make it illegal to develop, distribute or promote P-to-P (peer-to-peer) software for purposes other than collaborative working, research purposes or the exchange of noncommercial works. In addition, if French Internet users are found to have traded illicit files using such software, they will face a fine of €38 ($46) per infraction for downloading, or €150 per infraction for uploading. The bill calls on the Council of State to determine what level of trading constitutes an infraction.

Other measures in the bill could "threaten [the development of] free and open-source software," according to Patrick Bloche, a deputy who opposed the bill, speaking in the Assembly just before the vote. The bill's restrictions on the ways third-party software can interact with proprietary DRM systems mean that French open-source software developers and researchers will lose out, Bloche said.

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