France requires non-proprietary format for ebooks

Jil Larner jil.larner at
Thu Jan 29 17:33:52 UTC 2015

On 29/01/2015 16:14, xdrudis at wrote:

> I wonder if the publisher may work around the arret by publishing a 
> work in two versions

The publisher has to make the book public and readable. It would seem
that as there is an available book without DRM, there is no reason for a
version with DRM, and that if Amazon want the book they publish to be
filled with DRM, the publishers won't agree to support that cost
anymore. It's how I see it. However, the lack of access to the debate
between parties make it pure supposition.

> I don't have a clear definition of "proprietary" though (or 
> "non-proprietary"). I might be overpessimistic.

(In France) Officially, the use of the word "proprietary" is discouraged
in the law, and it to be understood as "exclusive system" (I never heard
of it before today), which would mean in the context of e-books, that
the e-book is designed to be readable on the specific material of a
specific maker. So it would mean that if the e-book requires Acrobat to
be read, it is proprietary. The same applies to the Kindle, and so on.

(Btw, please note that most of the French legal translations are never
used in common language, and often poorly selected regarding IT)

> I'd like this debate to have included the readers, the public, not
> only right holders. I guess they're represented by government, not
> even Parliament in this case, but the authors and publishers are 
> represented both by government and their associations, so it's still 
> unbalanced.

The fight (call it negociation) was clearly between authors and
publishers. The point about non-proprietary ebook is a detail in a
settlement that was more to limit abuses from publishers and
publishers-that-publishers-don't-call-publishers. The main purposes of
this law and the linked code of practises are:
– to forbid publishers who make authors pay to benefit from a
"publishing contract" (that has serious legal consequences);
– to specify what is really expected from a publisher to consider they
are publishing, and that the legal framework of a publishing contract
applies (in which we find the obligation to provide non-proprietary ebook);
– to ease the ability for authors to withdraw form the contract with not
serious publishers (until then, authors were blocked with exclusive
exploitation rights granted to a publisher that didn't promote the book
and the ruling of the judge was long and uncertain).

People, if you mean those who buy and read books, were not part of it
and it's not in French habits to include them. France isn't a country
where there is such a thing as a global discussion about important
matters. Only when the law goes too far and strong lobbies oppose to it,
you may see a surge of citizen implication to counter it. For the last
years,  media have been excelent in avoiding this kind of behaviour to
happen, but that's another topic :)

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