French Record Labels Suing Sourceforge, Among Others

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 18, 2008

If you thought the RIAA had cornered the market on heavy-handed, misguided lawsuits, think again. TorrentFreak reports that the Societe civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF) plan on pursuing a lawsuit against three US-based companies that develop P2P applications. Vuze, LimeWire, and Shareaza are the applications targeted in the lawsuit. There is a fourth company named that's not a developer, or a P2P site -- it's a repository.

It's actually not just any repository. It is, for many, the repository for open source applications -- Sourceforge.

Is it me, or does this lawsuit sound incredibly tenuous (to use a polite term)? New French legislation suggests that for P2P applications to be in the clear they must have the ability to filter and block the transfer of unauthorized copyrighted material. The problem is, this type of filter doesn't exist (and judging from other types of filtering software, would take literally years to get to a point where it would be even reasonably accurate). It seems, then, yes, the courts have given the record labels the go ahead to sue application developers for features that don't exist, and might not ever be a technological reality.

The icing on this cookie is including Sourceforge in the suit. Follow along: Sourceforge hosts Shareaza (among others), and though using Shareaza (or Vuze, or Limewire) doesn't mean you're violating copyrights, you could be, and Sourceforge has the servers that host these applications' code. Why stop there? Why can't they sue the telecom that maintain the lines that connect Sourceforge's servers to the Internet?

It seems that any progress made on the digital rights front is a two steps forward one step back type of situation. This case, no matter how you look at it, is just really bad footing.