France: Good Intentions, Bad Implementation

by on April 10, 2006 · 2 comments

I’ve got a new article up at Brainwash about the new French copyright legislation:

French legislators were rightly concerned that enacting the EUCD into French law would stifle such intra-platform competition in the market for digital media devices, just as many charge has occurred in the United States. But in stereotypical French fashion, the legislature overreached. The legislation does much more than permit reverse engineering; it requires companies to share the technical details of their software with competitors and vests the French courts with the power to prod recalcitrant companies into disclosing the workings of their software. Such a mandate is likely to have unintended consequences, as the French courts could end up second-guessing the design of Apple’s products. And the rule is also likely to be abused by competitors seeking confidential information about their competitors’ products that isn’t necessary for interoperability…

Libertarians envision the state in the role of an impartial referee. On social issues such as contraceptive sales or the teaching of evolution, liberals and conservatives commonly urge the state to impose their social agenda on society. But libertarians insist that the state ought to remain strictly neutral. The same logic applies in this case. The state ought not to take sides in the debate between open and closed systems. Instead, permit both proprietary technologies and reverse engineering, and let consumers–not judges or bureaucrats–decide which is superior.

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