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French Lawmakers Demand Source Code 189

Posted by jamie
from the full-disclosure dept.
Three French members of Parliament have proposed a law to "increase liberties and consumer protection, and improve economic competition in the information society." It wouldn't demand free software, or even open source software - it would demand that software used by the French government have its source code available, possibly under some kind of exclusive license, and more generally that open communications standards be used. Looks like they're trying for a practical solution to bit-rot, through the only effective means. Here's their press release and FAQ.

Interestingly, they also propose that software developers have a "right to develop compatible software." Of course, my right to make my software compatible implies your obligation to document your software and protocols so that I can make my software compatible.

Their proposed law "protects commercial publishers of proprietary software and developer communities of free software against anticompetitive strategies by enforcing in a practical matter the interoperability principle introduced in the European software directive of 1991. Therefore, Article 3 states that 'any individual or moral person has the right to develop, publish and use an original software which is compatible with the communication standards of another software.'"

(Any Francophones want to tell us what "moral person" refers to here? Corporations? Committees? AI software that passes the Turing test?)

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French Lawmakers Demand Source Code

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I ever meet YOU, I'll ctrl-alt-delete you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sure, the french may not be doing the best economically.
    They may not have the richest 6% of the people who have 51% of the money.

    But they do have much better working conditions for most people.

    Sometimes you need to just take a step back and evaluate whats actually important.

    Money or people? Is it THAT hard a decision?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I studied Pulp Fiction, therefore I know what they really call a big mac in france, you putz:

    ------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------
    Vincent Vega: And you know what they call a ... a ... a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?
    Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
    Vincent Vega: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
    Jules: Then what do they call it?
    Vincent Vega: They call it a "Royale" with cheese.
    Jules: A "Royale" with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?
    Vincent Vega: A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac".
    Jules: "Le Big-Mac"! Ha ha ha ha! What do they call a Whopper?
    Vincent Vega: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ah do not want software written by your silly English keniggits!

    Ah fart in your general clos-ed-source direction!

    Go away, or ah shall demand your source code a second time!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This will backfire on the French government. If you are a software vendor, will you take the time and effort to give your source to the French government for what is probably a couple million dollar contract?

    A couple of years ago, DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency -- US DoD Agency) contacted several commercial vendors to subcontract out parts of the DII-COE (Defense Information Infrastructure -- Common Operating Environment). The COE mandate is essentially to bring all DoD software under a standard platform (note, NOT OS platform, but kind of a meta-platform of functionality). They contacted Microsoft, InstallShield, etc.. to get them to extend their products to fit nicely into the COE. Most of them laughed. Spend a lot of money and a lot more time in government red tape for a couple of million?

    The result? The next versions of COE have been modified so that the standard versions of commercial products can fit in without modification. DISA's plan essentially failed so they backtracked and conceeded to the commercial parties.

    The same kind of result will happen here. France is small on the global scale. With only 60 million citizens and a geographic region comparable to Texas, they are not worth the red tape for a software company.
  • The last time I purchased something made in France was earlier today actually... I picked up some Moet & Chandon [moet.com] and a little Perrier-Jouet [perrierjouet.com].


    ----------------------------
  • They demand the source code, but the real catch is, all comments must be in FRENCH. The language of Balzac.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • The description of Ken Thompson's hack is here [umsl.edu].

    --

  • Trade unions will be overjoyed -- I find it hard to see who else would like the idea.

    Who else is there? Most workers in Europe are organized in unions. How else could they oppose the organized capital?

    --

  • Americans have no monopoly on racism. In some cultures, in fact, the racist element is far more powerful than it is in the US. France is actually an example, where they have entire political parties dedicated solely to driving all non-French people out of France. There's a similar movement in Australia. And let's not even go into Rwanda, what's left of Yugoslavia (it's a shame: it took a totalitarian regime to stop the fighting there, and once the regime was gone the bloodshed started right up again), and others.

    It's quite true that the US has a lot of racism in its history. It's equally true that the American people have done some pretty damn bad things in the cause of racism. But don't forget, there are many nations out there who have done things that make what America has done look like something you'd see on an episode of Sesame Street. Sadly, since you were too scared to put a name behind your flame, we can't exactly examine the things that were done in the name of prejudice where you come from. Or did you post anonymously because you can't take the heat? If so, then I suggest you stay out of the kitchen next time.
  • I disagree. I work for a government software contracter. Compatiblity? Hah! Compatibility does come, but not out of logic. The situation is normally as follows (in the DOD):

    A general starts using computers. He uses Windows and Office. "Wow," he says to himself, "These are so easy to use. If everyone used this, it would make my life even easier!" So, he mandates that all agencies under him move to use Office under Windows. That is how compatibility comes in the government. I've seen it happen several times.

    As for software vendors not fleeing? No, they will not flee. They will laugh and threaten to not sell. If Microsoft threatens to withhold products from France, then France will probably make an exemption for them. It is a hell of a lot easier to make an exemption for one company than to switch the entire platform of the government to free software. The idea of an entire government switching is pure idealism. It doesn't make fisical sense.
  • It all has to be Open Source (tm) or it's thrown out of the country.

    Now now, let's not get carried away here. First of all, this is merely a proposed bill. Second, it applies only to software used by the French government - not all software used in France.

    --

  • A personne morale is a legal entity, as opposed to a personne physique (human being), that nevertheless enjoys some of the same powers and rights, such as suing in courts, opening bank accounts and owning goods or real estate. Corporations, non-profit associations and similar entities are personnes morales

  • > Oh, wai, france have minitel, they don't use the > internet.

    That's surely the reason why all French ministries have web sites, most of which with translations in several languages. I can't say as much of the US or British governments.

    > There would be only a minor impact. Probably
    > this is to reduce the number of people using
    > internet in favor of minitel.

    Bummer. Internet traffic is driving telcos high,
    would you think they'd kill the hen that lays
    golden eggs? The government has shared in France
    Telecom and gets dividends!
  • Incidentally, someone was mentioning the bizarre French laws on encryption. These laws have been repealed a year or so ago: by that same (socialist) government which is now proposing this bill.

    More precisely, the (socialist [slashdot.org]) government issued regulations (decrees 99-199 and 99-200) superseding the former regulations. Most notably, these new regulations say that people can use freely 128-bit encryption as long as the software has been declared. The user does not need to declare the software; it is sufficient that somebody has declared the availability of the software to the authorities. For instance, IN2P3 [in2p3.fr] (a national research center on particle physics) modified SSH and made SSF [in2p3.fr] (limiting the lenght of the private key to 128 bits) and declared it. Now just anybody can download it (source code available) and use it fully legally without further hassle.

    A key length of 128-bit is supposed to be sure against attacks by corporations and governments for a certain number of years. The French government was nevertheless forced to set a limit since simply removing any limit would have been... illegal. The decree setting limits is actually a supplement to a law voted by parliament; this law stipulated that a limit should be set by the executive branch. The executive branch could not legally put no limit on keylength, since this would void the law of its substance; such a decree would be open to litigation and likely to be cancelled by the judiciary.

    The government said at the time that they were going to propose a law (to be voted by parliament) removing the last restrictions. However, this has not taken place; reasons may be the relative lack of interest of the public in the matter and the general overload of Parliament (greatly made worse, I must say, by the silly campaign from the right wing against the domestic partnership law).

    I suggest that we lobby a bit on this issue.

    Note: in France, the socialist party is more or less like the US democratic party (a bit further to the left). They have little to do with the so-called "socialist republics".

  • I actually see a pattern here, too! :-) As you know, members of parliament are prohibited by the constitution (article 40) to increase the financiary burden of the state. This means that they cannot vote a law providing funding for developers.

    I suggest that we lobby the government so that they provide funding for the free software projects that make software used in government administrations, universities and schools. That actually would help.

  • Any Francophones want to tell us what "moral person" refers to here? Corporations? Committees? AI software that passes the Turing test?

    I keep trying, but so far I can't convince anyone that I'm not a machine.

  • This is absolutely the most horrible, devastating idea of all. First, think of obfuscated perl. Does this send shivers down your spine and make it feel like thousands of /. trolls, disguised as slimy worms, were crawling up your legs ? This is worse.

    Source code in French - how would anyone be able to read it? Except the French, of course, but as we all know, civilization hasn't made it that far yet. This is just another plot by the French to take over the world. First they made Bill make all those obscene sex stuff (and the cigar was probably from Havana, too).. and did I mention Bill Gates was French ? George W. Bush isn't French, but he certainly thinks in French, and that's a crime comparable to trolling.

    We must be vigorous and fight this plague now. Liberate France from the French !

  • "I don't know why, but I accidently typed Europe instead of East Asia, sans china. As for the rest of your comments, your are a socialist and are of no interest or consequence to me or society." (italics added.)

    Well, i think it is people like you who will finish the downfall of American society (which would be a sad thing indeed.) You obviously have not read any Marx, Durkheim, Burke, Hobbes, especially Weber (and the postmodernist Ritzer)... i have done extensive research into the major Social Theorists (cosidering Philosophy and Sociology are my fields of interest.) What you are promoting is a self defeating system.

    It cannot, well i dont want to be a positivist, may not, survive for long. For you must understand that in order for there to be corporations, there would have to be people with the ability to consume! The system that you promote, ruthless capitalism, will exploit everyone until there is no one left. When there is no one left, even the companies will fall. You have to find a happy medium, Golden Mean as (IIRC) Plato put it.

    There is a possibility for another revolution, i will not be in the US to witness it. The incidents which occured over the world trade org, and international monetary fund are just beginning.

  • Programs used under GUIs must contain at least 10 icons shaped like characters from Jerry Lewis movies. Also, all software must insult the user as often as possible without them knowing it.
  • A spokesman for the White House stated that if France starts requiring the use of open standards and protocols in information systems, then the USA will be forced to retaliate by converting over to the metric system. "We'll show those smartypants Frenchmen that we know a thing or two about standards ourselves," he explained.


    --
    "Damn! And just when Piranha was starting to turn the tide of negative PR!"
  • > any individual or moral person has the right to develop, publish and use an original software which is compatible with the communication standards of another software.

    And since this right is restricted to moral persons, Bill G & Steve B have always been forced to write unoriginal software which is incompatible with the communication standards of other software.

    --
    "Damn! And just when Piranha was starting to turn the tide of negative PR!"
  • s/Microsoft/Scientology/, and there you go.

    I go where? My point stands. The worst Scientology guys can do to you is sue you into bankrupcy. The government, OTOH, can put you in jail (and often does -- US has the largest % of population in prison as I recall).

    Kaa
  • No government agency is allowed to buy product from a company that makes the product overseas and gives the workers less wages and benefits than they could give local workers"

    Care to speculate what's going to happen to your taxes in this case?

    Trade unions will be overjoyed -- I find it hard to see who else would like the idea.

    Kaa
  • The current situation provide WAY to much power to the corps

    It does? Consider what, say, Microsoft can do to you, personally, if it decides it doesn't like you at all. Now consider what the government can do to you if it decides it dislikes you.

    The proposed law strengthens the hands of the people and checks the corps./i.

    And it strengthens individuals how?

    Besides, I would assume the people most interested in the source would belong to the three-letter agencies (that is, their French equivalents). I mean, assume you are NSA: wouldn't being able to find security holes in your private copy of the source of Win2K/9x/NT/whatever be a godsent to you?

    Kaa
  • French people are pretty much the same race as Americans. If your going to throw flames, at least throw applicable flames.

    -B
  • One thing that noone has mentioned. France is a member of NATO, and because of this use a lot of our military systems. If they go through with this, they just might require that military systems comply, which would be very interesting. The choice would be, a system that not all of NATO would use (which probably wouldn't be bought by the US or UK governments either, interoperability is pretty important), don't sell military systems (which gives market share away), or comply.

    Don't be surprised, however, if military systems are exempt.

  • (Any Francophones want to tell us what "moral person" refers to here? Corporations? Committees? AI software that passes the Turing test?)

    AFAIK, (and my francophone girlfriend) the french legal term "personne morale" means a group, assiciation, corporation or whtanot, as opposed to an actual flesh and bone person (like my francophone girlfriend... ;-) )

    I may be wrong -- as a french lawyer (SINAL (she is not a lawyer...).


    adrien cater
    boring.ch [boring.ch]
  • It is hard to guess whether this would have a chance to pass since the 400+ other members of parliaments basically have no clue on the issue.

    It has much more chance to pass in France than in the US since french politicians are much less influenced by corporate lobbyists (there is a very strict control on campaign $$). I'd say it will depend on media mostly. If i were microsoft I'd hire a few PR people for france NOW.
    ---
  • When is the last time you bought anything that said "Made in France."

    Mandrake Linux. Nuff said.
  • It is also true that in CAD/CAM applications for Textile Industries the leading Companies are Lectra Systemes and NedGraphics ( who market a software called Visioni tha was developed by the French. These two Companies are No.1 and No.2 in this Market Segment.
  • i imagine that stuff like communication between license servers for software is one area which standards will *not* be opened and this covers it. dont forget that RMS has different ideals than the french who want to prevent bit rot as opposed to "free software for everything".
  • This is a charming perspective, but not quite accurate. Industrial goods manufactured by French companies and exported worldwide include cars, large-scale systems for the telephone industry, radars (much of the US airport equipment is french-made, i'm told), etc. Note that I wrote manufactured "by", not "in" France. AS in much of the western world, the industry as relocated part of its operations outside of France. Also, IBM's largest overseas factory is in France.

    That said, my pen is an American-made Sheaffer ;-)
  • "Oui, avec un chapeau rouge, ce n'est que le Software Open Source, je demande pour le gouvernement francais ..."

    Actually, the French are really into garden gnomes right now, so I think they'd like to buy GNOME apps.

    I can see it now - an ad campaign in French with garden gnomes and penguins, all wearing snappy red hats. The penguins should wear the black and white striped shirts and red berets, of course - the gnomes should wear Red Hat style hats.

    And, they could sing together while marching over Bill G tied down with stakes, like Lilliputians over Gulliver.

    Wouldn't that be a hoot!

  • Yes, when ah ordehr WINE, ah buy ze Open Source WINE. None of zis Mihcrosoft gahrbahge for ma descriminating palate.

    Eet goes well wi' ma GNOME de jardin and I theenk ze penguins zeh are, how you say, ahdorahble?

    Linus, he ees French, non?

  • >Code written behind closed doors tends to stay that way for a reason (it is usually pretty embarassing.)

    Hmmn. And how much of this behind-closed-doors have you read in order to get a data set to make this generalization? I'd imagine that a lot of proprietary code, for financial and military institutions, for instance, is some of the finest in the art.

    First, we make the incorrect generalization that all Open Source code is innately better than all proprietary code; now we're leaping off of that shaky premise to the conclusion that all proprietary code is, in fact, shoddy and embarassing?

    Not sure I'm going to buy into this line of thought.


    --
  • Of course, Microsoft France will want to sell to the government. And the requirements of the law aren't anything Microsoft will have trouble fulfilling, they already license their source to selected clients. Using documented protocols for communication is more problematic, but *most* of Microsofts communication *are* using documented protocols. There are a few "extension" they will have to document, though.

    Also, remember how big part of the economy the government is in Europe, and how influent France is in EU. If the France government doesn't use Microsoft products, there will be a big pressure for the private sector as well as EU to use compatible software.

    The law makes a lot of sense, it is basically what any big company would require from their supliers, if they were smart enough to avoid being dependend on a single source.

  • Lessee here... according to the CIA World Factbook (a less than ideal source for info, but it's what I have on hand) France has per capita around US$23,000 and grew 3% in 1998 and 1999. It has a somewhat better income distribution, so even the lower GDP per capita translates into comparable incomes to the US for most of the middle class. The French stock market has grown faster than the S&P for the last couple of years. France is currently the biggest producer of high-tech exports in the EU, and is second only to the UK in the amount of foreign direct investment it has received in the last seven years. France has a lower external debt per capita than the US, a trade surplus (America has a trade deficit), low inflation, a smaller percentage of the population in poverty than the US, a higher literacy rate, more people with full health insurance...

    If France is a country with severe economic problems, I only wish the rest of the world was so badly off.
  • by vlax (1809)
    Remember, France has very low inflation, as low as the US if not lower over the last few years. The money supply isn't increasing much, besides which, changes in money supply have relatively little direct effect on market valuations. During the high inflation 70's in the US, corporate incomes mostly rose with inflation, but market values didn't start rising significantly until Volker slowed inflation down in the 80's.

    Corporate incomes have been generally up in France, but it will take a while for me to find statistics.
  • US has the largest % of population in prison as I recall).

    Indeed, they have; so maybe the problem with the US government is not the 'government' part, but the 'US' part?

  • It does? Consider what, say, Microsoft can do to you, personally, if it decides it doesn't like you at all. Now consider what the government can do to you if it decides it dislikes you.

    s/Microsoft/Scientology/, and there you go. Microsoft is NOT *that* powerful ... what most microsoft-haters fail to take into account is that it's *not* the biggest or most powerful corporation around ... and by far. Their market valuation is enormous, but as far as revenues go, and employees and political influence, typically Oil companies or pharmaceutical companies are much, much more powerful and probably much more crooked in general.

    But they could be that big in no time, that being said.

  • Yeah, insightful, indeed. I could'nt imagine the software vendors fleeing as you claim they would, but then ... who cares? Just use free software. Anyway ... software companies have an interest in selling their stuff to govt agencies, even if it was at a loss: that pretty much sets the standard, most of the time. And there's a lot of corps. out there which are specialized in govt market (I'm not talkiung software specifically). To work with the govt, they certainly need to use compatible software. Hence your post is a farce.
  • Moral person = "Virtual" person, as opposed to a "physical" person, that is, a "carbon unit".

    Thus, a company, a corporation, anything that is not made of blood and flesh is a moral person.

    --

  • Talk about the typical crass ignorance, bigotry and narrow-mindedness of the proverbial stupid yankee...

    No wonder you sign "Soldier": you cannot create by yourself, but have to plunder...

    --

  • What you are talking of would be really interesting to discuss if you had some hard, real facts to rely on. No, I do not think that your site [altern.org] is informative. It is a mixture of ramblings on elections results, quotes from legal texts whose status (proposed? voted? pending to be signed into law by the President) is not even clearly stated, and comments whose pertinence is not proved. In short, this site is very much akin to fringe political propaganda (say, communist leaflets): it surely alludes to something true, but is not convincing.

    As far as I know, theoretically, nowadays Web sites are considered by law as akin to the written press. A paper publication (say, a magazine or daily newspaper) has to have a "director of publication" and to be declared to the authorities. The basic idea is to have a clear liability trace in case of libel or other publications prohibited by law (such as a call to murder or similar things).

    However, in the case of WWW sites, this becomes very unwieldy and is not enforced: people that open a WWW page do not declare themselves as a proper publication. Therefore, some people in parliament found it a good idea to replace these requirements by something more modern. Of course, this attempt was a bit misguided, and surely the law will be repealed and/or amended a lot.

    Apparently, they wish users to register with their real name to their ISP. That way, if a user posts, say, a public call to murder black people on his or her WWW site, the judiciary has a clearly defined person to prosecute. Of course, the lawmakers forgot that anyway users could simply ftp such contents to off-shore sites; perhaps showing them how the WWW actually works could make them a little more in touch with what is technically possible.

    Members of parliament propose dozens of ill-designed laws each year. I think you overreacted. Posting a comment such as your on a site like Slashdot, where most of the audience is not too knowledgeable about European issues and is prone to knee-jerk libertarian comments, was irresponsible and useless. You had better collect actual facts and make a WWW site that reminds less of the anarchist propaganda leaflets dirty young men give to passers-by outside of universities! :-)

  • > Interestingly, they also propose that software developers have a "right to develop
    > compatible software." Of course, my right to make my software compatible implies
    > your obligation to document your software and protocols so that I can make my
    > software compatible.

    The MPAA isn't going to like this concept. It would mean open source DVD players in France would be a "right" rather than an illegal reverse engineered hack that can turn children who program into criminals.
  • What constitutes a webmaster? Any person writing a webpage? How would they admminister that huge amount of requests to register? Oh, wai, france have minitel, they don't use the internet. There would be only a minor impact. Probably this is to reduce the number of people using internet in favor of minitel.

    I will move to france the 1st of june to work for MandrakeSoft. Hm. I'm a bit scared of all these strange laws about crypto and now perheaps web publishing...

    Anyway, if I use any other protocol (Say ftp) instaed of http, or any other format than html, am I still a webmaster?
    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • So how would France know that the source code matched the binary they were using? Maybe they'll audit each and every line of code, and compile it themselves. But somehow I doubt it.

    It's pretty simple to tell if the binary matches the source. You compile the source and compare the binaries. If you are unable to produce the same binaries as you were given, then you don't have the source code.
  • When is the last time you bought anything that said "Made in France."
    About as long as it's been since i bought anything Made in USA. All the stuff i get seem to be made in Taiwan, China or Japan. :)

    -henrik

  • Microsoft once created a good, operating system for home users, and they never forgot it. France was once a world power, and they have never forgotten that.
  • This isn't terribly interesting. Lots of large corporations demand and get source code escrow clauses when they buy major mission-critical software from vendors. And lots of RFPs specify adherence to industry standards.

    As for the former -- I've never quite seen the point. The idea is that if the company making the software tanks you're not stuck with software you can't fix. But really, what are you gonna do? It would take an army of developers to figure out the code and find a fix. Unless you also get all the internal development docs and hire the (presumably out-of-work) programmers from the company, you're still stuck with lame-duck code.
  • The French government is just as entitled to refuse to use any closed-source application as the US Military is to refuse to use any single-source hardware.

    This is the perfect answer. Use capitalism means to control the capitalist market. If you don't like what someone does, refuse to deal with them.

    The US Military doesn't want to end up with a situation where a $25 million dollar jet is grounded because the only supplier of a $5 part is suddenly charging $500,000 for it. That's why they refuse to buy anything that they can't replace from at least two independant sources.

    The French government doesn't want to be trapped, forced to buy new copies of MS Office for every public employee just because their copies of Win2k expired and Win2003 broke old Office packages. (Not an unprecedented thing.)

    And then there's the security issue. Closed source software can contain any number of evil features. And even if you went through it with a debugger you could never be sure you didn't miss something. That'd be like the Russians (during the cold war) licensing an encryption package from the NSA. By using only open source software, the government ensures that its software is open to wide scrutiny.
  • It's obvious what'd happen to the tax money, it'd stay in your country, perhaps being used to pay you, instead of going overseas to help someone else.


  • >>western European nuclear soverign power who is a member of NATO

    >By western I meant as far as ideologies go, as opposed to eastern russia/asia ideologies.


    Right, and my whole point is that while France may have as much influence as the UK, it does not have as much influence as the USA.


    >>I don't think anyone outside France thinks that France is as important as the USA in terms of international clout.

    >So what, you just take this time to toot your own capitalist horn?


    What makes you think I'm a capitalist? Tooting [Bec] or not, I stand by my comment. You are obviously an exception to my generalization. Surprising to find you on /.
  • western European nuclear soverign power who is a member of NATO

    I don't think anyone outside France thinks that France is as important as the USA in terms of international clout.

    Paris meridian my arse (pardon my French).
  • This is quite similar to an older proposal made in the French Senate: there was already an article [slashdot.org] in /. about this previous proposal (where, strangely enough, it was considered much more favorably). However, it was turned down (I do not remember whether it was turned down by the Senate or whether it made its way to the National Assembly and was turned down there). At any rate, I am happy to learn that this proposal (or a similar one) is back on the table (and this time proposed by members of the majority in power, so there are more changes of it getting voted in).

    Incidentally, someone was mentioning the bizarre French laws on encryption. These laws have been repealed a year or so ago: by that same (socialist) government which is now proposing this bill.

  • I think it does have a chance. First, the MPs who are proposing the bill are members of the majority parliamentary group (and party discipline is, in French politics, much more effective than it is in US politics). Second, the French Government has been making some important efforts among similar lines, and I think they will support the bill.

  • It's interesting to see the difference in attitude between Germany and France as concerns the question of open standards and open source. Germany has been giving substantial amounts of money to various open source projects (notably GPG). France will vote laws. Now which is best?

  • I think that MIT should Stop MSFT from saying the WIN2K is fully Kerberos 5 compliant. This is a blatent lie and false advertisment. With the Judgement in I think only a FOOL would not see MSFT's intent with this purposefull fudging of Kerberos.
  • France has historically been a hassle to computer companies. First their bizarre (read: non-conformant with European norms) encryption laws, now this. Just how much clout do they think they have here, exactly?

    They think they have as much clout as any other western nuclear soverign power who is a member of NATO, and they'd be right.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • The French tradition of tolerating brutal, oppressive governments until they burgeon to the point of requiring bloody rebellion, then instituting some new government that gleefully tries to outdo its predecessor in gruesome abuse of power, is well known. ...Even if it is a much shorter tradition than the "Anglo-Saxon" one cited above. Many people are also familiar with the much longer Continental tradition of government veneration and cheerful lock-step obedience to officialdom. (This is not to say that Americans don't sometimes need to be slapped away from emulating this tradition themselves, despite your apparent conviction that the anglo-american legal tradition is one of anarchy.)

    In France, whenever the State or the Government thinks it can pull a fast one on the people, the people rebel and promptly overthows the culprit. This does a far more effective job than the labyrinth of byzantine anglo-saxon "checks and balances" that merely insure that only seasoned special interest group lobbyists will be able to steer things their ways in the ensuing political quagmire.

    Post-Revolution France, with a history of violence, colonialism, nationalistic aggression, and oppression that makes the U.S.A.'s bloody history look positively angelic in comparison, really doesn't strike me as great proof for the claim that the French system "promptly" tosses out bad governments. As for checks and balances, they may frustrate people attempting to totally rework the system of government or enforce their pet wishes of broad social change...but that's the point.

    Even better, for the french, working for the State is not viewed as a bad thing; in fact, the State skims the best of the best in the schools, and offers free schooling in special schools that turn-out civil servants of exceptionnal ability, competence and talent. Recent French historry is peppered with thousands of such people of very humble extraction that rose to very influential positions, thanks to those State schools, and returned the favour with exceptionnal service to the State, for the benefit of the whole population, not just a few lucky shareholders.

    In a pleasant fairy-land, the State acts solely to benefit the people, and not mostly to meet goals of higher-ups and enrich bureaucrats and officials. France doesn't count as a pleasant fairy-land. The French government merely tries to offer the most desirable jobs by using taxpayer money to make the positions particularly enticing.

    And that's only legitimate: the taxpayers deserve the absolute very best people to work with their tax money.

    No, taxpayers deserve the very best use of their tax money, which they are forcibly deprived of. Having "the absolute very best people" on government payrolls doesn't necessarily mean the taxpayers benefit at all - all francophobic joking aside, the French people don't deserve exquisitely talented and well-trained censors, commissars, secret police, assassins, and propagandists any more than the rest of us. Even assuming that all those government workers can be said to be honest (because, of course, dishonest people don't try to get attractive jobs) and none of them work in government functions that serve to oppress or impede the people (because France apparently doesn't have a government like any other in human history), it doesn't strike me as obviously just that taxpayers are forced to provide the copious funds necessary to make every government position more desirable than private-sector jobs where the funds come from people choosing to pay...

    This systems insure that anybody that has the potential for exceptional service receives the training for it, not just the very few whose fathers can afford college, or those who are lucky enough to brownnose themselves a scholarship.

    I have to wonder what system you're trying to contrast this with. The US government has many programs for subsidizing the advanced education of people willing to work for it. Further, it's terribly easy to get a college education in this country. Bone-average students willing to pony up wages from a menial job can get into community colleges in most of this country. If you want to get into a better school, you have to have money or show talent, yes (as said by someone who didn't know anyone to brown-nose, but managed to get scholarships and grants to go to college).

    Of course the State has to stay in power!!! There is only one State, and it's disappearance means anarchy. But only something that is legitinate can assume statehood, and it is certainly not the unaccountable private corporations that are so aggressively vying for statehood can be legitimate.

    You really just missed the point, there. It's not an issue of wanting the state to go away (personally, I wish I could believe that anarcho-capitalism would work, but I'll have to settle for minarchism), but about people realizing that the State has big (often overriding) priorities and goals that have nothing to do with fulfilling its duties to the people and contradict the freedoms and rights of the people.

    You are incredibly blindfolded by the biggest anglo-saxon collective neurosis: the fear and distrust of the State. You are a perfect example of people being brainwashed by the continuous anti-State propaganda whose only purpose is to shrink the State so much that it will no longer stand in the way of big corporations who want to make the biggest amount of profit at the expense of everyone else.

    Ah, yes, the "freedom and limited government are the tools of the corporate bastards keeping us down" theory. So much stronger and more plausible than the "government can be and has been damned dangerous before in the past, so let's keep it under control" theory, because, of course, proponents of limited government, who also oppose such things as corporate subsidies and government-instituted monopolies and sweetheart deals, are just the mindless tools of Big Money.

    Now, if there is no more State to make laws that protects you against greedy corporations, what will you do when some corporation decides that it wants your own house?

    If the corporation has such total power over me, it IS a State. :) I don't, and few people do, reject the idea that some government is necessary. Malicious corporations, groups, churches, families, and individuals do need to be restrained from infringing upon the rights of others. However, governments, being usually the repositories of the most weapons and the people willing to use them on other people on command, are inherently more difficult to restrain once they get too dangerous. (Which makes me wonder how you reconcile your love of bloody revolution with the desire to glorify and empower the state so that it can't be rebelled against.) Hence the desire to keep them limited.

    (Incidentally, the only way a corporation can take my house against my will here is if the government wants it to do so and forecloses on my house. It's called "Eminent Domain" and happens too damn often. And before you protest that the corporation somehow bullies the government into this evil behavior, governments do the same thing all the time, here, when they want your land for something and you don't like the price they initially offer.)

  • I wouldn't trust the government to not leak my code (making my application free)

    How would that make your application free? If you're worried about free-as-in-beer, the government leaking your binary would have the same effect. If you're worried about free-as-in-speech, copyright law prevents it from becoming so.
  • I agree that if you work in the closed-source world (like I do) that having your source code leaked is not a good thing. Not because it makes the program available to people for free (a leaked binary would do the same), but because it allows other people to package your program into their closed-source application and claim it as their own. This problem, however, would disappear if everything were open (open as in the source code was available to license holders, not open as in the open source definition [opensource.org]). Books by their very nature are open, but does plagiarism run rampant in the book industry? No, because the open nature of books makes plagiarism easy to detect. Oh, look, now I'm ranting at you for no good reason.
  • Wired has a short interview with the Marketing Director of MS France here [wired.com].

    MS seems to interpret the law as requiring that they open source Windows. He almost threatens to stop selling to the French government if the law through.

    He says, 'If it was passed as it looks today it might make doing business with public authorities very difficult.'

    Though they may be trying to exagerate the impact to build support against the bill.

  • Ask yourself. If you were a corporation with a business model based upon proprietary secrets, would you:

    A) release the secret to an intimate group of 30,000 beaurocrats in order to secure the French account

    B) say "screw France" and refuse to comply

    France has historically been a hassle to computer companies. First their bizarre (read: non-conformant with European norms) encryption laws, now this. Just how much clout do they think they have here, exactly?

    -konstant
    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • ... or the author(s) will face culture crimes like they are trying to do with web sites. frenchc or frenchperl anyone? Or maybe just translate comments to french. No wait, we can just strip the comments from the code to solve that problem. ;-)

    Seriously, though, I'm not sure how well this will really work in practice. Just because you have access to source code does not necessarily means that you would ever want to use it. Code written behind closed doors tends to stay that way for a reason (it is usually pretty embarassing.)

    It is also interesting to note that in the US any code developed through a federal grant must be released into the public domain.

    -p.

  • If the NSA is going to put backdoors in software, or implement other monitoring schemes, it doesn't really matter which nation they are dealing with. They have the ability to subvert entire organizations. So how would France know that the source code matched the binary they were using? Maybe they'll audit each and every line of code, and compile it themselves. But somehow I doubt it.

    Consider the NSA "relationship" with Crypto AG, a Swiss company. Just look it up on Google if you're not familiar.

    Best regards,

    SEAL
  • > would interpret this as requiring full open
    > documentation of all the Windows/Office/IE/VB
    > APIs.

    Lets not forget Kerberos. Foir Win2k it would mean
    that M$ Kerberos (which as we all know only
    differs from real kerberos by a tiny bit) would
    have to be documented...so non-MS servers could
    serve Kerberos Tickets, even to Win2K machines.

  • heh

    French Culture is fairly differnt from american
    culture. They are related, they have alot in
    common, but they are certainly also very differnt.

    Tho....the flame was stupid in other ways...
    certainly the french DO have McDonnalds (hell
    their McDonnalds sells beer even)

  • I would disagree on a minor point...

    No software should EVER be considered a security
    problem if its released. If they are relying on
    the fact that noone knows how the program works
    to keep things secure....then they deserve what
    they get.

    All software they write should be released as
    source to the world. They should be relying on
    solid math and hardware to be keeping security,
    not the obscurity of their algorithms.

    By forcing them to release the code, you force
    them to not even consider writting code that
    relies on its own secrecy.

    Besides...with the small exception of immediate
    military secrets (like orders to tell troops where
    to move) the government shouldn't be allowed to
    keep ANY secrets AT ALL. (with the exception of
    private data like SSNs, Census data, and of
    course their own encryption keys).
  • > I don't see this (the French government claim to
    > source disclosure) as a good thing. I am highly
    > distrustful of governments and giving more power
    > to them -- and this is a power grab by the
    > government,

    Well I am one of those weirdos who thinks
    government was one of the "Top 10 worst ideas that
    anyone ever had". I think they don't deserve any
    trust at all...however...I see this very
    differntly.

    This is simply a sensible internal policy. They
    are not saying "You have to give us the source".
    They are simply setting an INTERNAL policy for
    their own offices that "We wont use it, if it
    doesn't come with source".

    I think that governments SHOULD do things like
    this, if they want to exist. They should require
    even more strict things. They should require
    things like "No government agency is allowed to
    buy product from a company that makes the product
    overseas and gives the workers less wages and
    benefits than they could give local workers"
    (ie, no sweat shops).

    This is simply saying "This is the kind of thing
    we want to suport". They are not saying you can't
    make closed software, just that "We wont buy it".
    I think its one of the few good things I have
    ever seen a government do.
  • Practically you've got a long way to go.

    I live in a typical .gov installation where there are email attachments rife with .doc, .xls, .ppt extensions that the senders expect to be understood as if they are Standard Formats. Web pages, too, constantly refer to such binary proprietary formats, with the occassional helpful tag that clicking on the link

    will launch Word

    Not if you don't pay all of your taxes to MS it won't launch Word.

    When I try to explain that I can't read their attachment I usually get blank stares, mystified befuddlement, confused silence (they're thinking "Oh! You're computer must be broken just now. It happens to me and My Computer all the time, too!") and attempts to resend the exact same document as if it would be OK after my computer was fixed and rebooted like happens so often to theirs!

    Any attempt to explain the difference between formats dictated and hidden by a profit-making corporation and those that are documented in a publicly accessible RFC are usually met with polite impatience.

    StarOffice has been some practical help, but it doesn't solve the fundamental problem -- that virtually all of the business of the U. S. Government would cease if their MS licences were to suddenly expire.

    Hmmmm... that might not be such a bad idea!.

  • I currently work for a state government IT dept, (although I'm in my last week and will be working at a private company by the end of May), and policy in regards to software is somewhat scattered.

    Those of us who maintain and administer servers in the IT dept want as much open source as possible because we can go find more accurate answers, more quickly, than we've ever gotten from a private company's tech support, and it works better - (more efficient server processes). The management wants a product with a support contract to feel safe. Also, once they have funding for a development project, it's use it or lose it so if an off-the-shelf product will produce results and time and resources are tight, then that's what is used. So there's kind of a tug-of-war and the fact that people like me come in and get things working and then leave for a better job with less bureaucratic nonsense, doesn't help things.

    Then there's the problem of alot of development projects being out-sourced to vendors who are nothing more than 3rd-party proprietary product pimps, (say that 10X fast), although management has recently begun to listen to those of us who support the servers, after much persistence, and are being more stringent about rejecting proposals that do not comply with our current Oracle/Apache/Solaris shop.

    So the branch of state government I work for does try to use open source whenever it can and has a tacit understanding that everything is to be developed in such a manner that it can be ported to a different platform if needed so that moving to open source is an option if the time and resources ever become available, but it's not always possible right off the bat.

    - tokengeekgrrl
    "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions

  • hmmm...so by your argument, then data is king. Data is the only thing that ever needs to be protected (kept secret, that is), never the programs or source codes, right? Well, that makes sense.
  • I guess what I wrote wasn't clear, because I happen to agree exactly with what you are saying about how security should not be through obscurity. That's why I think in many ways the softwre that the US government uses should be open source. However, say if there were military algorithms for missile controls (I don't know of a better example), then I would say they should be classified and kept under wraps. Again, I agree with you on that as well.
  • I remember that there was the article on FOSE a couple of days back and I wondered why the government doesn't use Linux and Open Source software, and more importantly, why don't they create their own distro? Well, with this article, it seems a little clearer...

    As far as US government software is concerned, I think aside from all the classified and confidential software written for the government which would be something akin to 'classified open source' (meaning, the source is completely available within the government to all those with the proper security clearance), all other software such as office productivity applications and OSes that are general purpose and do not contain top-secret algorithms/code should be Open Source. That was a long sentence. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that all government software that is not security-sensitive should be open source. Why? Because I think the government, more than anyone else, would want to know that the software that they use do not have security holes. I'm sure all the software that they use that ARE security sensitive would follow the same open source approach, except that the source is not 'open' to the public.

    Does anyone know how the government ensure that the software they use do not have security problems? Or are they so tight on physical and network security that they are not worried about it?

    I know that there are many problems with my suggestions above, not the least of which is that Open Source software is often not end-product oriented, but re-packaged with additional software developed by companies to provide the final end-user product. And this is why I thought it would make sense for the government to create its own distro. If they were to develop their own software based on open-source, they'd have to do less work, have more control over what they use, etc.

    Does this make sense?

  • It is not entirely true that the French do not care about government influence in economic affairs. The French government installed shorter work weeks, I believe 35 hours a week instead of 40, and many companies protested saying it would only make it harder for them to make a profit when they have to send people home an hour early.

    Personally I would take offense at the government telling me when I had to go home, deep in hack, hitting a Zen state of programming, oh damn it's 2pm, time to go home...pfft!

  • This is something useful that can be exercised upon every software company. Maybe there wouldn't be a need for DOJ if what French were doing was the thing for the entire globe. It may be a requirement that a company always opens its standards, this generates more competition and progress, if the company opposes, take its selling license away. Easy
  • You guessed right, jamie. When the French text of the proposed law refers to "personne physique ou morale", this means "a human being or a collective entity recognized as such for certain legal purposes." Basically, the law says that any person, organization, or corporation has the right to develop compatible software.
  • France (not the people, but the government) has a few severe problems with it's economic system, and it is extending the same philosophy that caused these problems to software.

    Essentially, they are starting to treat software manufacturers like equity owners (shareholders).

    In France, the rights of a shareholder are minimal. Unlike in the US, where shareholder interests are supreme and codified into the law, France gives very few rights to shareholders - decisions to improve a companies financial health and the wealth of the shareholders take a back seat to worker "rights" to employment, etc.

    The result? France attracks little foreign investment, and investors in France do not invest domestically. The capital flows to countries where their property rights are protected (US, UK, Europe).

    Thus France suffers from high unemployment and a lack of capital for new business start ups. When is the last time you bought anything that said "Made in France."

    Now, they are extending this philosophy - a disregard for property rights - to the area of intellectual property.

    The same results will follow with software in France.

    It isn't that there is a problem with open source-like schemes. The problem is when the government compels is, no matter how well-intentioned.


    Soldier(R)
  • I wondered why the government doesn't use Linux and Open Source software, and more importantly, why don't they create their own distro? Well, with this article, it seems a little clearer...

    Allow me to muddy the waters again....

    At least one government agency has it's own custom distro of RedHat. NIST(Nat. Institute of Standards and Technology). So, it is happening in some corners. Of course, with Clinton running off half-cocked to 'secure' the government with NT machines, anything could happen.

  • Okay, perhaps my zealous reaction to the country of common American distaste was uncalled-for.

    Standardization is good. Easy and open, sanctioned sharing of information is good. I even believe that socialism can be a better government system than ours if it's executed properly. It's nice to see that France is using its powers for good instead of evil. This will make learning and competing (as much as is possible under socialism) much easier. Maybe this experiment in policy will set a good precedent for other nations.

    Instant Crisis

  • by emerson (419) on Monday April 24, 2000 @11:44AM (#1112989)
    >And what makes you say that? Want to elaberate a little?

    Love to.

    >I really feel that Open Source code is at least as good as propriety, if not better. It isn't
    >allways better, of course, but nearly allways it is.

    See, that's the thing. "I really feel." Show me the numbers.

    For every buggy proprietary program you want to show as evidence, I can dig up some splinter version of identd or MAME launcher or desktop environment that's as Open Source as the day is long, but still is horribly broken and terribly coded.

    Being Open Source doesn't INHERENTLY create quality. It provides the _mechanism_, the _opportunity_ for better code, for all of the reasons we all know and love.

    But opening the source to a program doesn't automatically mean it will suddenly get an interested multitude of good developers with excellent coding and communications skills to wrangle out all of the bugs and comment all of the files. That CAN happen, but there's no guarantees that it will.

    Being Open Source is good for many things, finding and fixing bugs more easily, keeping programs from being orphanned, creating public libraries of known-good code. But it's still software development like any other software development, and without a dedicated core team of talented engineers, you're not going to make another Apache or Linux kernel just because of your license choice.

    Or, to sum up, saying Open Source code is at least as good as proprietary code makes no sense. Open Source code ranges from idiotic to sublime, just like proprietary code. Neither one is 'nearly always' better than the other in any measure that's not purely philosophical.

    Sense?

    --
  • I think they have quite a lot of clout, the Government of France buys a lot of computer software. If they direct that money one way or another they can make a big difference.

    If I was Helixcode and RedHat I would be taking a long hard look at this and seeing if I could use it to my advantage.

    Hey you might be able to talk them into paying for the development of a few chunks of gnome office.

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Sick Boy (5293) on Monday April 24, 2000 @09:58AM (#1112991) Homepage
    Around the same time as when it becomes impractical/impossible for a Congressman/woman/critter to be bought.

    Suffice to say, not soon.
    --
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:31AM (#1112992)
    This is a good view to take, and I think it represents the situation accurately in this case. But consider this, the government is fighting on multiple fronts. They have not only lost power to individuals, they have also been losing to corportations. One way to win in a multi-front war is to get your enemies to fight amoungst themselves, but come to the aid of the weeker if one side starts to win.

    The current situation provide WAY to much power to the corps. The proposed law strengthens the hands of the people and checks the corps. Yes the government is also strengthened, but does it matter in this case? Is it a power grab, or aid to the losing side? I tend toward the latter and say let's take our wins where we can.

    The gov may be strengthen in this instance, but it is at the expense of the corps. As individuals, we are fighting a two front war also. If we let either the corps or gov get to strong we lose.

  • western European nuclear soverign power who is a member of NATO

    By western I meant as far as ideologies go, as opposed to eastern russia/asia ideologies.

    I don't think anyone outside France thinks that France is as important as the USA in terms of international clout.

    So what, you just take this time to toot your own capitalist horn? That wasn't part of the question, and it's irrelevant.

    Not to mention it really stops being a factor once you become a nuclear power. A nuke is a nuke is a nuke. If France really wanted to push for something on the world stage, they could do it. Hell, little shit countries like Korea bully the US constantly for money, why? Because they've got nukes, and enjoy firing test ICBM's over Japan and the US is deathly afraid of the threat of nuclear war.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • In the AS/400 shops I've worked, it has been fairly typical to insist on having source code... if you're an airline or a bank and your vendor suddenly goes AWOL, you have to have a bankup plan. The FAA or OTS/FFIEC/FDIC (respectively) pretty much requires it, so the vendors comply. If they don't want to actually issue you-the-customer the source code, it's put in escrow.

    Interesting to see this coming down to the micro level.

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 24, 2000 @12:32PM (#1112995) Journal
    That's a really nice troll, and I find it interesting that it got moderated up to 4. I guess that moderation shows how ignorant the average slashdot reader is. Anyway ... As for your question, when is the last time something you bought had the label "made in france" ... well that's a really good question and I suggest for example that you open up your ADSL modem, your DirecTV MPEG decoder chip (my uncle designed it ...), or examine closely some flash ram chips (all made by ST Micro). More generally, french economy is much more oriented towards export than the US economy. And oh yeah, our trade balance is positive ... you could compare this to the abyssal US trade deficit.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmai l . c om> on Monday April 24, 2000 @04:15PM (#1112996) Journal

    In the French political tradition the government (== the state) is much more powerful and subject to less checks and balances than in the Anglo-American tradition. I see this as the continuation of the trend: the government is (slyly) trying to increase its power in the Information Age.

    In a french society, there is no inherent visceral distrust of the government nor of the State. In France, there was no magna-carta to inflate the heads of power-hungry people to the point of totally subverting the State to the needs of the few powerful people who have enough wealth to run things as they whish.

    In France, whenever the State or the Government thinks it can pull a fast one on the people, the people rebel and promptly overthows the culprit. This does a far more effective job than the labyrinth of byzantine anglo-saxon "checks and balances" that merely insure that only seasoned special interest group lobbyists will be able to steer things their ways in the ensuing political quagmire.

    The french people therefore puts a lot of trust in the State, and the State has a therefore much larger role than in anglo-saxon societies. It is also an active economic partner; french people think nothing of having the State running profitable businesses (for one thing, 100% of their profits go back to the State, so that's so much more money that the people will have less to pay in taxes).

    Even better, for the french, working for the State is not viewed as a bad thing; in fact, the State skims the best of the best in the schools, and offers free schooling in special schools that turn-out civil servants of exceptionnal ability, competence and talent. Recent French historry is peppered with thousands of such people of very humble extraction that rose to very influential positions, thanks to those State schools, and returned the favour with exceptionnal service to the State, for the benefit of the whole population, not just a few lucky shareholders.

    And that's only legitimate: the taxpayers deserve the absolute very best people to work with their tax money.

    This systems insure that anybody that has the potential for exceptional service receives the training for it, not just the very few whose fathers can afford college, or those who are lucky enough to brownnose themselves a scholarship.

    The State is an emanation of the WHOLE NATION, and therefore it HAS TO WORK FOR THE WHOLE NATION. If it doesn't, that state is overthrown, either forcefully (1789, 1848), or peacefully (1959).

    One, often useful, view on what's happening treats economic and political life as a huge power game, played by three kinds of players: governments, corporations, and individuals. Recently second half of the XX century) the governments have been on the losing side -- their power vis-a-vis other players have somewhat declined. Since the first goal of any government is to stay in power, and the second is to grab as much power as it can get away with, this makes government unhappy. Add to this the (yet) unfettered freedom of the 'net and the governments start to look positively worried.

    Of course the State has to stay in power!!! There is only one State, and it's disappearance means anarchy. But only something that is legitinate can assume statehood, and it is certainly not the unaccountable private corporations that are so aggressively vying for statehood can be legitimate.

    I don't see this (the French government claim to source disclosure) as a good thing. I am highly distrustful of governments and giving more power to them -- and this is a power grab by the government, make no mistake about it -- does not strike me as something to be applauded. I recognize that corporations are not all benevolent either, but I still think that governments are more dangerous.

    You are incredibly blindfolded by the biggest anglo-saxon collective neurosis: the fear and distrust of the State. You are a perfect example of people being brainwashed by the continuous anti-State propaganda whose only purpose is to shrink the State so much that it will no longer stand in the way of big corporations who want to make the biggest amount of profit at the expense of everyone else.

    Now, if there is no more State to make laws that protects you against greedy corporations, what will you do when some corporation decides that it wants your own house?


    --

  • France (not the people, but the government) has a few severe problems with it's economic system, and it is extending the same philosophy that caused these problems to software.

    In France, the Government carefully caters to the needs of the people who elect it: the population.

    Essentially, they are starting to treat software manufacturers like equity owners (shareholders).

    In France, the rights of a shareholder are minimal. Unlike in the US, where shareholder interests are supreme and codified into the law, France gives very few rights to shareholders - decisions to improve a companies financial health and the wealth of the shareholders take a back seat to worker rights" to employment, etc.

    And it is a good thing! This prevents the social structure of the society from crumbling to a state where nobody can expect help from other people, and cannot trust anybody else, including the State (like it currently is in the United States).

    French society is a much more balanced society than anglo-saxon societies. The "Economy" may be important, but is is NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN, as one may think by looking at an anglo-saxon society.

    So, it is therefore a good thing that shareholders rights are not paramount before the rights of the majority of the population.

    After all, that majority of the population are not entrepreneurs nor investors, and they elect a government that has to ensure that the State looks after their best interests.

    The result? France attracks little foreign investment, and investors in France do not invest domestically. The capital flows to countries where their property rights are protected (US, UK, Europe).

    Last time I checked, France *IS* *IN* *Europe*. And property rights are very well protected in France, as well as human rights are.

    Now, what is more important, property rights, or human rights???

    Thus France suffers from high unemployment and a lack of capital for new business start ups. When is the last time you bought anything that said "Made in France."

    But the employers have, by law, to insure better working conditions than in anglo-saxon countries. Workers can work efficiently without having to worry about getting the boot tomorrow, even if they work satisfactorly. Good engineers can stay working as good engineers, without having to think about bailing out and starting their own upstart company, thus wasting the talent of a good engineer turned into a not-so-good administrator. It's not for nothing that Airbus is eating a whole chunk of american aerospace industry!!!! Ever flew in a Caravelle??? Rode in a Citroën DS??? Both (made 40 years ago) STILL run circles around the best american industry can produce TODAY.

    The continuous refusal of britain to follow european social and human-right standards when it comes to human/property rights is quite indicative of the primitive state of anglo-saxon societies, where only the most powerful can thrive (at the expense of others), just like in the stone age.

    Now, they are extending this philosophy - a disregard for property rights - to the area of intellectual property.

    A true display of blatant ignorance, and typical anglo-saxon ethnocentrism; a stauch refusal to consider viewpoints different from one's. France is a country that has been built as much upon intellectual property as "physical" property. It is not for nothing that french Culture is one of the richest in the west; for each Shakespeare, France will boast hundreds of Racine, Montesquieu, Molière, Beaumarchais, Rabelais, Voltaire and whatnot.

    How many litterature nobel prizes???

    How many science nobel prizes???

    Surely such a country cannot blatantly disregard TRUE intellectual property!!!

    The same results will follow with software in France.

    In the 1960s, France was at the forefront of software developpment. Then the 1970's came along with american computer companies strong-arm tactics. French informaticiens never forgot how they lost their prominence to snake-oil. They had their lesson, and will never be caught at it again.

    It isn't that there is a problem with open source-like schemes. The problem is when the government compels is, no matter how well-intentioned.

    How about when private concerns compel close-source? Is that better? Will you have the balls to say that it is "well intentioned" towards the public good???

    --

  • by leshert (40509) on Monday April 24, 2000 @09:56AM (#1112998) Homepage
    RMS would like this one in particular:
    Q: Does this Law allow the use of Free Software?
    A: Yes, all Free Software is compatible with this Law by nature since Free Software source code is public and since all communication standards can be derived from the knowledge of the source code.


    Note the use of the words "Free Software" instead of "Open Source Software". They clearly are using "Free" to mean libre, rather than gratis.

    Q: Isn't is sufficient to require access to the source code?

    A: No, because on the one hand, access to the source granted only to public organisations is not sufficient to guarantee that communication standards used to exchange information with citizens are open communication standards. Moreover, on the other hand, it would be incompatible with private property and competityion [sic] Law to force all software publishers to give public access to the source code.


    That's the real kicker. Revealing source code to a third party (as opposed to "Open Source") is not good enough--you need to make your standards open. Also, they don't force anyone to try to totally open their source. RMS is probably cringing here, but this point will go a long way toward making this more acceptable to developers.
  • by WillAffleck (42386) on Monday April 24, 2000 @11:10AM (#1112999)
    France (not the people, but the government) has a few severe problems with it's economic system, and it is extending the same philosophy that caused these problems to software.

    Not true. They have a nice 35 hour work week, their productivity is up dramatically due to enforcing it, and they use Linux for all the DSL access to their schools. If you're a Bill G type who wants to get rich on the backs of the people, you won't like them, but most Open Source coders don't have megabucks and aren't in search of them.

    In France, the rights of a shareholder are minimal. Unlike in the US, where shareholder interests are supreme and codified into the law, France gives very few rights to shareholders - decisions to improve a companies financial health and the wealth of the shareholders take a back seat to worker "rights" to employment, etc.

    And this is bad? I've owned French ADRs and I don't have a problem with the French way of doing things.

    The result? France attracks little foreign investment, and investors in France do not invest domestically. The capital flows to countries where their property rights are protected (US, UK, Europe).

    That was last century, ma vielle, massive inflows of capital to France are the hallmark of late 1999 and all of 2000. Wake up and smell the cafe au lait!

    Thus France suffers from high unemployment and a lack of capital for new business start ups. When is the last time you bought anything that said "Made in France."

    Last week, I did. And unemployment is dropping there as capital flows in. Try keeping up if you're going to invest worldwide, ok?

    Now, they are extending this philosophy - a disregard for property rights - to the area of intellectual property.

    If you mean a requirement that Privacy Rights of Citizens are higher than Property Rights of Companies, of course. And that's a good thing. Why should the EU follow the disasterous example of US Privacy Rights, which give away everything to corporations, including intellectual property that should belong to the people?

    The same results will follow with software in France. It isn't that there is a problem with open source-like schemes. The problem is when the government compels is, no matter how well-intentioned.

    I doubt it. I'm betting a lot of money that it's not so. And so are a lot of other worldwide investors, who think you're out to lunch on this subject. So, we have to accept a little bureaucracy, so what? At least we have an ordered and equal financial market with educated consumers. Not like Italy or Russia, where bribery is the way of the world.

  • by jmv (93421) on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:02AM (#1113000) Homepage
    I guess european countries are getting scared of the control US companies have on the software they use. Regardless how security-threatening the last MS backdoor was, it frightening for a nation to know that NSA or any other organization can put backdoors in Windows (or other software from any closed-source vendor). The US is not too worry, since a potential NSA backdoor would not benefit other countries, but the europeans are.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:29AM (#1113001)
    (bad english! I'm a french webmaster)

    The 17 may 2000, the french will vote for the creation of a "Conseil Supérieur de l'Internet" : Where all french Webmasters need and ID and administrativ authorisation to publish any information on Internet (web, ftp, irc, ...)

    French Risk to pay 1200$ and/or 6 month of prison. If they are not autorised to publish information on internet.

    More info (in french) at
    http://www.article11.net/ [article11.net]
    and http://altern.org/defense/vote/ [altern.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:03AM (#1113002)
    Close. In French law, "moral person" is opposed to "physical person" (ie, individual). So a moral person is any entity to which law applies but is not an individual: corporations, non-profit organizations, etc.
  • by pb (1020) on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:05AM (#1113003)
    Since code is considered speech by some people, they're probably just making sure that it's all written in French, without any American idioms creeping into the language...

    *ducks*
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].
  • by Kaa (21510) on Monday April 24, 2000 @10:07AM (#1113004) Homepage
    it would demand that software used by the French government have its source code available

    In the French political tradition the government (== the state) is much more powerful and subject to less checks and balances than in the Anglo-American tradition. I see this as the continuation of the trend: the government is (slyly) trying to increase its power in the Information Age.

    One, often useful, view on what's happening treats economic and political life as a huge power game, played by three kinds of players: governments, corporations, and individuals. Recently (second half of the XX century) the governments have been on the losing side -- their power vis-a-vis other players have somewhat declined. Since the first goal of any government is to stay in power, and the second is to grab as much power as it can get away with, this makes government unhappy. Add to this the (yet) unfettered freedom of the 'net and the governments start to look positively worried.

    I don't see this (the French government claim to source disclosure) as a good thing. I am highly distrustful of governments and giving more power to them -- and this is a power grab by the government, make no mistake about it -- does not strike me as something to be applauded. I recognize that corporations are not all benevolent either, but I still think that governments are more dangerous.

    Kaa
  • by eries (71365) <slashdot-eric@@@sneakemail...com> on Monday April 24, 2000 @09:56AM (#1113005) Homepage
    Interesting bit:
    , Olivier Ezratty, VP of marketing and communication for Microsoft France said that Microsoft was eventually ready to grant some independent technical authority full access to the source code of Microsoft software within government control. Also, Microsoft often makes custom versions of their products for large consulting companies in order to comply with their needs. Eventually, Microsoft is also free to publish a detailed and consistent documentation on its comunication standards so that they become open standards.

    Glad to know that Microsoft will not be prohibited from publishing consistent and complete documentation.
    But seriously, this sounds like a very good use of government power. I'd hate to see the government get into the business of dictating development techniques (much as I love open source), and this seems like a good way of encouraging open standards without deliberately antagonizing powerful companies like MS.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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