Cablegate: France's New Drm Authority
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #1472 1021529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121529Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6444
RUCPDOC/DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS PARIS 001472
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON ECPS KIPR FR
SUBJECT: France's New DRM Authority
NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION
1. (SBU) French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres
announced on April 6 the establishment of the Technical Measures
Regulation Authority (TMRA), which will decide on issues of
interoperability of digital rights management (DRM) systems, as well
as rights to copy original works for private use. Both principles
stem from the controversial French digital copyright law adopted on
August 1, 2006. Donnedieu de Vabres also unveiled the names of the
new authority's six members, all well-seasoned copyright attorneys
or new technology professionals. Coming 10 days before the first
round of France's presidential elections -- but announced just
before the long Easter week-end -- the decree indicates the
government's determination to take credit for opening the way to
interoperability while seeking to minimize public scrutiny.
Although presented as a "fait accompli," it is not clear whether
this new institution will survive a likely legal challenge to its
authority by "freeware" associations, or presidential elections in
which all contenders have vowed to review the digital copyright law.
End of Summary.
The Easter surprise: a new authority
2. (SBU) The draft decree establishing a Technical Measures
Regulation Authority (TMRA) had disappeared from public view for two
months, while it was reviewed by France's highest administrative
court, the State Council. It could have been discreetly buried
there, to be revived or not after the Presidential elections.
Instead, French Culture Minister Donnedieu de Vabres followed
through on his commitment to install a new regulator to ensure that
the copyright law's provisions on interoperability will be applied.
Under the decree, as provided for by the law passed last year,
consumers are permitted to make an as yet undetermined number of
copies of original copyrighted works for private use.
3. (SBU) Donnedieu de Vabres noted that reported discussions
between Apple and EMI on offering the EMI music catalog DRM-free on
iTunes did not obviate the need for a DRM authority in France. This
possible agreement did not mean the end of all DRM systems, he said,
pointing out they had existed for a long time, and would likely
continue to exist in some form for the foreseeable future.
Introducing the members of the new authority
4. (U) Donnedieu de Vabres made his announcement surrounded by the
six members of the TMRA. The new members are appointed by the
organizations they represent for six year terms. They are: Jean
Musitelli, member of the State Council, whom the Culture Minister
presented as the drafter of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection
and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (which
the U.S. strongly opposed); Marie-Francoise Marais, member of
France's highest Civil Court "Cour de Cassation," and a specialist
of literary and artistic copyright; Patrick Bouquet, member of the
Accounting Court (akin to the GAO in the U.S.) and an economic and
new technology expert; Pierre Sirinelli, member of the High Council
for literary and artistic copyright as well as Professor of
copyright in the digital environment at the Sorbonne; Christian
Saguez, President of the Commission on Information Technology and
Communication of the French Academy of Technologies as well as
Professor at "Ecole Centrale"; and Tristan d'Albis, president of the
Commission on Private Copy.
5. (U) Donnedieu de Vabres closed his speech by recalling some of
the powers of the new authority. They include the ability to issue
injunctions to require companies to communicate to competitors
essential information necessary for interoperability following "just
and prior" compensation, as called for by the August 2006 French
Constitutional Council amendment to the digital copyright law. The
Constitutional Council also gave the TMRA the power to punish
illegal downloading with penalties of up to five years imprisonment
and a 500,000 euro fine.
Will the new authority survive unchanged?
6. (U) Presidential contenders Nicolas Sarkozy (leading
Center-right UMP Party), Segolene Royal (Socialist Party) and
Francois Bayrou (Center) have all pledged to take another look at
France's implementation of the May 2001 EU Copyright Directive.
They all dislike aspects of the current law, but it is not clear
whether they would do away with the new authority, maintain it as
is, blend it into another regulatory body or just give it different
powers. Sarkozy thinks there are too many regulators in new
technologies, while advisors to Royal appear strongly sympathetic to
the open source movement and may be disposed towards regulations
that encourage movement in that direction.