French RIAA Vs. SourceForge, Take Two

Last month the French RIAA, the SPPF, declared that it was <a href="" target="_blank">bringing suit against SourceForge</a> for aiding and abetting peer-to-peer piracy. It sounded ludicrous, and now there's better evidence to show it is indeed every bit as stupid as it sounded.

Serdar Yegulalp, Contributor

December 3, 2008

4 Min Read

Last month the French RIAA, the SPPF, declared that it was bringing suit against SourceForge for aiding and abetting peer-to-peer piracy. It sounded ludicrous, and now there's better evidence to show it is indeed every bit as stupid as it sounded.

For a local perspective on the lawsuit, I was directed to the blog of the "CoPeerRight Agency", which according to its masthead is "the first specialized agency in the protection of royalties and the fight against digital piracy on Peer-to-Peer networks and the Internet" ("1ère agence spécialisée dans la protection des droits d'auteur et la lutte contre la contrefaçon numérique sur les réseaux Peer-to-Peer et Internet"). They seem to be of the general stance that online file sharing is not illegal, or at the very least does not deserve to be countered by suing everyone in sight on shaky legal ground.

The blog entry in question is entirely in French, which I do read (although not at a collegiate level), and with some effort I found what seem to be the key reasons for the lawsuit against SourceForge. Here's the original French:

Nous aimerions revenir sur l'assignation étonnante de SourceForge, qui ne manque pas de nous plonger dans la perplexité. Le directeur général de la SPPF, Jérôme Roger, explique cette mise en cause de la manière suivante : « SourceForge est une société qui a travaillé pour le compte de Shareaza et que nous avons mise en cause dans la mesure où ses ingénieurs ont procédé au développement du logiciel - qui a aujourd'hui disparu en tant que logiciel P2P - Shareaza ». Mais, tout d'abord, le logiciel Shareaza existe toujours puisque sa dernière version date du 1er octobre 2008 (version

Par ailleurs, en suivant le raisonnement adopté par la SPPF, pourquoi ne pas attaquer 01net qui propose des liens vers Shareaza, Limewire, eMule, Azureus etc. ? De même, si toute société qui développe des programmes permettant de commettre des actes de contrefaçon numérique devait être assignée en justice, pourquoi ne pas attaquer les navigateurs Internet comme Firefox (distribué par Mozilla Foundation), ou Chrome (développé par Google) ?

Le directeur général de la SPPF mentionnait que 180 logiciels avaient été identifiés comme permettant l'échange illégal d'œuvres de son répertoire, pourquoi alors la société a-t-elle ciblé trois éditeurs en particulier ? Enfin, d'après les explications de la SPPF justifiant ces procédures judiciaires, pourquoi n'a-t-elle pas attaqué BitTorrent qui est le protocole utilisé par le logiciel Vuze ?

Here is_riaa_vs_sourceforge_take_two.xmlmy (admittedly shaky) translation; corrections are welcome:

We would like to return to the astonishing indictment of SourceForge, which does not fail to plunge us into perplexity. The managing director of the SPPF, Jerome Roger, explains the reasoning for this in the following way: "SourceForge is a company which worked on behalf of Shareaza and which we blamed insofar as its engineers carried out the development of the software -- which disappeared today as a P2P program -- Shareaza". But, first of all, the Shareaza software has always been available, up to its most recent version dated October 1, 2008 (version

In addition, while following the reasoning adopted by the SPPF, why not attack 01net which has connections with Shareaza, Limewire, eMule, Azureus etc? In the same way, if any company which develops programs that enable acts of digital piracy were to be accused, why not attack Internet browsers like Firefox (distributed by Mozilla Foundation), or Chrome (developed by Google)?

Why, then, if the managing director of the SPPF mentioned that 180 Software had been identified as enabling the illegal exchange of works in its [SPPF's] repertory, did the company target three editors in particular? Lastly, according to the explanations of the SPPF justifying these legal procedures, why didn't it attack BitTorrent, which is the protocol used by the software application Vuze?

If my reading of this is correct, the SPPF is bringing suit against SourceForge not only for the mere act of hosting the Shareaza project, but for actively collaborating with them in its development. This, to me, speaks of an astounding level of ignorance on the part of the SPPF with regard to how software is developed -- either on SourceForge or in general, really.

I'll have more as I can dig it up.

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