France's strict interpretation of copyright is holding back innovation, says Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe. Gerloff was one of the speakers at an open source conference, organised by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance and the IT trade group Syntec Numerique. The conference took place in Paris, yesterday.
According to FSFE president Gerloff, France's copyright authority, Hadopi, is long overdue in answering questions raised by the developers of VLC, a popular open source multimedia player. "VLC is the world's most widely used free software player. It will play anything you throw at it", he said. "The developers now even want it to be able to handle Blu-ray discs. They've asked Hadopi over one year ago for legal guidance on how to handle the digital restricitions management, but the copyright authority has yet to come up with an answer. It is stuck in with a ridiculous strict interpretation of copyright."
One of VLC's main developers, Jean-Baptiste Kempf, commented: "The legal and technical details are too complex for Hadopi to handle. It seems they've asked outside experts to help. Maybe that slows them down. Or maybe one of the manufacturers is causing the delay. We simply don't hear anything from them."
In Paris, Gerloff appealed on the Ministry to provide political backing for open source initiatives. "Policies are nice, but implementation is hard", he told the conference attendees. Procurement is the biggest hurdle to get more European public administrations to implement open source, Gerloff said. He pointed as an example to research published earlier this month, showing that public administrations in the Netherlands are "widely disregarding" the European procurement rules.
The FSFE president said that the uptake of open source by France's public sector is a leading example to other countries. "But there is much still to do. France needs to support its free software champions. Like VLC"
Kempf: "The only public administration that has sponsored VLC's development is the United Kingdom."
États Généraux de l'Open Source