French presidential elections 2012 and Free Software : some answers, some non-answers, some don't answer.
Paris, April 20th, 2012. 9.00. Press release.
Updated on April 20th, 2012, 14.00.48 hours before the first round of the presidential election, April would like to thank the candidates who answered its questionnaire Candidats.fr. The organization prides itself on the continuance of this initiative, which demonstrates its relevance in lights of the responses received . Although April is glad for the in-depth responses that deal with issues regarding Free Software and related issues, April is deeply concerned that some of the responses are problematic for Free Software. Software patents, DRMs and the DADVSI law indeed seem to have invited themselves in the presidential campaign where they are trying to gain some legitimacy.
At the moment, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, le Front de Gauche for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Eva Joly and François Bayrou have answered (in French)1. Fleur Pellerin, in charge of François Hollande's digital economy program has sent us her answers. April is still waiting for answers from Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine le Pen, although the outgoing President and Jean-Marie le Pen had answered in 2007.
Many answers are detailed and interesting, we would like to invite you to read them in order to learn more. However April would like to focus on the issues found in two of the answers and on the lack of answer from Nicolas Sarkozy.
François Bayrou declares in his 2012 answer that "the issue of the patentability of Free Software must be tackled at the European and worldwide level", even though he indicated in 2007 that software patents could be a threat for Free Software. He also considers that "the protection measures that are DRMs are useful, necessary even, for the preservation of intellectual property", although in 20072 he said that "the goal of technical measures is to prevent some uses of the content. This should not imply any kind of sui generis intellectual property of the technical measures, which would grant them the anti-competition benefit of patents without any of the limitations and obligations to which they are tied. Any hindrance to interoperability in this area is made at the expense of the public and the cultural innovators". The 2012 answer seems less developed, and the thinking behind it is a step backwards compared to the 2007 one.
Regarding the Socialist candidate, April regrets that François Hollande did not bother to reply himself. The answers only speak for Fleur Pellerin, who is responsible for digital economy in his campaign. Although her positions on software patents are good for Free Software, others are more worrying and represent a decline compared with 2007.
She did not reply on any on the questions regarding copyright issues: on 12 precise questions on the matter (on DADVSI, ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, DRMs ...), most of which were asked in 2007, she keeps a vague stance and does not make any kind of commitment3 while Ségolène Royal in 2007 had committed to repeal title I of the DADVSI law in a much more detailed answer4 .
This lack of commitment, in a document that is not even binding for the actual candidate, is constant throughout the text, and is worrying. Moreover, since 2007, issues related to the restrictions of digital freedoms have kept growing in intensity. On other topics, Fleur Pellerin's answers are just as vague : on the bundled sale of computers and software, the candidate's head of digital economy assumes that "the issue of bundled sale evolves in terms of consumer and competition law. Let's avoid any dogmatism on the matter". No concrete action is planned to allow consumers to assert their rights.
"I don't want to consider this to be François Hollande's actual answer: it doesn't come from the candidate himself, doesn't bind him in any way and doesn't make any concrete proposition" says Lionel Allorge, April's president. "In order for Free Software to play its role in the presidential campaign, I encourage François Hollande to reply to the letter I sent him and to my open letter5".
Although this non-answer is not binding, the silence of another candidate is also telling as far as he is concerned: the lack of answer from Nicolas Sarkozy who, like in 2007, still has not communicated his position6 two days before the first round, is causing concern that the president-candidate did non improve during this period. In other words, April regrets that his presidential project would still be based on software patents and "Chinese-style internet"7, focusing on blocking and repression, and setting in stone an excessive unbalance between private monopolies and public liberties. Guillaume Lambert, Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign director, sent April his answer to our questionnaire on April 20th, 2012 at 12.30. These answers only reinforce what our press release said.
During the last French presidential elections in 2007, April had launched its Candidats.fr initiative, aimed at raising awareness among elected representatives about Free Software and at knowing these representatives' views on the various related topics (copyright, DRM, software patents, education, bundled selling, ...). During the 2007 French presidential election, April had submitted to the candidates a long questionnaire. By accepting to answer it, candidates could present their vision on such subjects as software patents, copyright, treacherous computing, interoperability... Eight of the twelve candidates had taken up this challenge (François Bayrou, Olivier Besancenot, José Bové, Marie-George Buffet, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Ségolène Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dominique Voynet).
April has updated this questionnaire in view of the upcoming presidential election (first round: April 22nd; second round: May 6th). The final version (in French) of the questionnaire was sent to candidates on Mars 1st, 2012
For the French parliamentary elections in 2012, on June 10th and 17th, the Candidats.fr initiative shall take the shape of the Free Software Pact, as during the previous elections8. The Free Software Pact is a simple document, whose signature allows electors to know which candidate in his district has perceived the underlying stakes related to Free Software, and is committed to promote and defend the corresponding liberties. Citizens are invited to contact candidates to educate them and invite them to sign the Pact.
Pioneer of free software in France, April is since 1996 a major player in the democratisation and the spread of Free Software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in the French-speaking world. In the digital era that is ours, it also aims to inform the public on the dangers of an exclusive appropriation of information an knowledge by private interests.
The association has over 5,500 members, using or producing Free Software.
Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director, email@example.com +33 660 688 931
Jeanne Tadeusz, Public Affairs Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org +33 1 78 76 92 82
The submitted answers have been published on a single page (in French).
- 2. The 2007 answer from François Bayrou is available in French.
- 3. Answer from Fleur Pellerin to the 12 copyright related questions : "After the repressive dead-end that was Hadopi, François Hollande affirmed his commitment to the development of the online cultural offer in respect of creation. The method used is a wide consultation that should lead to a law that will replace the HADOPI law with a real "act II" of the cultural exception. The DRM issue will be assessed within this framework. What I see is that the that most of the music industry has given up on technical protection measures. We should ask ourselves whether we preserve the related regulations currently in place "
Ségolène Royal's answers in 2007 are available online
Read Lionel Allorge's open letter an open letter about why free software is a real stake for society - "Mesdames, messieurs les candidats à la présidentielle, le logiciel libre est un enjeu de société" (in French) published in Mediapart on April 6th, 2012
- 6. The campaign team from Nicolas Sarkozy has been telling is from the last three days that we should get the answer soon.
- 7. As described by April in its press release in 2007, Le projet de Nicolas Sarkozy : brevets logiciels et « internet chinois » (in French). See also his answer to the Free Software National Council, Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL) (in French).
- 8. April organized this action during the course of the French parliamentary elections in 2007, of the French municipal and local elections in 2008, of the European elections in 2009, of the French regional in 2010, of the French local elections in 2011 and of the elections of the Belgian federal government