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Quebec menaces Sony and Nintendo over bad languages

If it ain't in French, it ain't legal, mes amis...

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The Canadian province of Quebec is insisting that commercial Web sites aimed at people living there must be in French, although English is also allowed. The latest move by Quebec language minister Louise Beaudoin is give Nintendo and Sony until New Year's Eve to produce a French language version of their Web site, or be fined. Neither Sony nor Nintendo were commenting - but perhaps they didn't understand the message. "The law must be applied," Beaudoin said, but her heritage counterpart in the Canadian federal government claims that Beaudoin's Office de la Langue Française lacks jurisdiction over the Internet, although there will be no intervention unless a case gets to court. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has also declared the Internet to be a regulation-free zone, subject only to the usual kinds of exceptions. It's only commercial sites that the Québecois must see in French, because Article 52 of the French Language Charter mandates that all catalogues, brochures, leaflets, and commercial directories must be in French. Dealer Micro-Bytes Logiciels of Pointe Claire was intimidated into taking down most of its site after a threat of a fine, even though it was in the process of producing a bilingual site. The Quebec government is also pretty straight-laced about sex, and insisted on the removal of some Web pages from the Quebec government-backed Internet site Printemps du Quebec that showed different facets of Quebec life. But the "Sexual Guide for Virgins and Beginners" (in French) by a virtual character called Webinette, the web mistress, proved too much. ®

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