France requires non-proprietary format for ebooks

Jil Larner jil.larner at
Tue Jan 27 19:06:59 UTC 2015


On 26/01/2015 20:46, Ben Finney wrote:> Can someone please give a
broader context for this, for someone who
> knows nothing of the specific institutions named here?
> That is, what would you put in a press release for a foreign audience
> who knew nothing about the prior situation nor the French legal system
> nor the specifics of these institutions? What is the good news?

I skipped the part by which the French Parliament has given its
legslitative power to the Government. It's common practise in France,
when it comes to laws the Parliament has no time to investigate (they're
more focused on making laws from the politic agenda, which doesn't
necessarily mean they focus on useful or meaningful laws). The drawback
is that there is no parlementary work to rely on in order to understand
the full extend of the law. In this very case, should the Parliament had
worked on the law, we would know if “non-proprietary” meant no DRM, or
just no non-proprietary DRM.

Anyway… The more intellegible news follow:

On November, 12th 2014, the French government rejuvenated the
intellectual property law regarding book publishing, which was last
updated in 1992, in order to include both changes in contractual and in
technological matters. In this last field, a particular attention was
drawn to e-book publishing, for which the law redirects to a code of
practises. It appears the union of writers and the syndicate of book
publishers have made mandatory for the e-book to be “available in a
usable technical format, taking into account the market's usual formats
and their evolution, and in at least one non-proprietary format.” By
decree, the Minister of Culture has made this code of practises
applicable to all authors and publishers in France.

This is great news for Free Software users, as it promotes the ePub
format further. Users of Linux will be able to read all e-books without
running into compatibility issues.

However, the case of DRM is a bit more complicated. As of today, there
is no open specification of DRM for e-book [someone, please double check
this], which forces publishers to provide an ePub without DRM (to match
the “non-proprietary” obligation), but the coming months will show if
publishers play the game of full interoperability, or if they release
non-proprietary DRM in order to comply with their new obligation.

Stakes for the publishers are high, as the obligation for
non-proprietary e-book is at the heart of the contract by which they
obtain exploitation rights from authors. That is, should the publisher
not comply, the author can withdraw digital rights for his book and give
it to another publisher.

Anyhow, this code of practises begin written by authors and publishers
altogether, it seems France is turning down the transformation in which
a book you owned became an e-book a company controls for you. Let's hope
France will continue to walk toward open litterature.

That should give a base for a PR. I hope.

Best regards,

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