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French record labels sue, um, SourceForge

Open source haven thumped for harboring P2P app

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The French music industry is suing four US-based companies for distributing P2P applications that can potentially be used to illegally share music.

Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), a group representing French record labels, is targeting Limewire, Morpheus, and Vuze (formerly Azureus) in the legal action.

Its fourth mark is oddly the open source code repository SourceForge, for simply hosting the P2P client project, Shareaza.

At question is France's DADVSI copyright law, which includes an amendment barring making available software that's intended to distribute unauthorized protected works. The provision provides for penalties of up to three years in jail and a €300,000 fine.

SPPF first attempted to sue the companies late last year, but the proceedings were stalled while the court determined if the law could be applied to companies outside of France.

The law can also be used to force companies to develop a way to block the transfer of unauthorized copyright works. Presently, none of the applications have such a feature — and given that no massive file distribution business to our knowledge has figured out a reliable way to do this could result in some interesting repercussion in France.

TorrentFreaks, which flagged the story, notes enforcing a ban on platforms that can be used to distribute unauthorized content is certainly ripe for abuse. What else can be used to distribute content illegally? Oh, say, FTP, web browsers, and email. Hell, the entire Internet itself could be banned in France. ®

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