Told ya so…

I’m not one to often say “I told you so”, but…

I told ya so.

It took a relatively minor revision to the proposed law for BoingBoing/Cory to finally figure out how terribly nasty for the consumer the french law truly is.

The funny part is that the revisions aren’t really much different from the version that Cory sorta-kinda supported a couple of months ago.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. It was, after all, jokingly referred to as the “Universal-Vivendi” law…

As much as I like this whole “weblogs are the new press” thing that is going on, I really wish the reporters/writers would do just a smidgen of research before flying off the handle (this is directed less at Cory/BB and more at CNet, Wired News, and several other “news” organizations that published “factual stories” that even the most basic of research would reveal as totally wrong).

Update: Cory called me on this. Thank you.

BoingBoing has had various articles and followups that illuminate the stupidity quite nicely (see his comment for links — note that most of them were written in response to a prior proposal by France).

This is the article I was responding to in my original post and, specifically, what I wrote above was intended to poke fun at this statement:

The French Parliament is considering a law that would force music-lockware companies like Apple and Microsoft to license their anti-copying software to other companies, so that customers who bought crippled music could play it on other vendors’ players.

This is a good step, but for me, it leaves the big question hanging: will Apple and Microsoft have to license their players to free and open source software authors? The problem is that anti-copying software always comes with a licensing condition that requires implementors to design their players so that users can’t modify them. It’s like requiring everyone who licenses your internal combustion engine design to weld the hood shut.

What wasn’t so fun were the plethora of articles like this one that barely touched on the real issues and this rather fanciful editorial claiming that France was going to save civilization through said law. Only the Linux community (relatively new article that is similar to the ones from the same time the original story was posted) really seemed to have picked up on the true details of the law because it so effectively threatens the viability of open source software development.

That such seemingly reputable news agency and editorialists would praise a very small part of the overall law without indication as to the destruction of personal rights that it carries with it is irresponsible and does a disservice to the reader. Or, more importantly, a disservice to the reader’s readers.

Technology news is like a game of telephone where the players are ordered by ability to parrot what they hear. By the time you get to Fox News or CNN, there seems to be no attempt to verify facts or to understand the claims made in the context of the whole.

As this whole “are bloggers journalists?” debate rages on, I think those who want to be treated as a weblogging journalist should consider long and hard how their statements are interpreted by the masses that are not steeped in the same knowledge that they possess.

One Response to “Told ya so…”

  1. Cory Doctorow says:

    Um, *what*? The previous posts on this subject were:

    English info on France’s terrible proposed copyright law

    France about to get worst copyright law in Europe?

    France will let MSFT play iTunes – but what about open source players?

    France OKs filesharing amendment, more legal wrangling to come

    Every one of these posts was deeply skeptical of the French EUCD implementation. Several of them went into depth about the potential minefield. Two went into detail on the Vivendi amendment. The posts called on experts from orgs like and reporters, writers and wonks on the ground in Paris, with extensive email, phone and web-research.

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