HADOPI: anti-Free Software propaganda in school?

Paris, Marc 26th 2009 Press release.

While the French Three Strikes "HADOPI" bill is being examined by the French national assembly, April wishes to stress that article 9 b constitutes an infringement to educational and economic neutrality in school. This article, which condemns downloading as a whole, ignores the numerous pieces of work being shared. It points these technologies as a threat, based on the partial and biased point of view of companies who haven't adapted to the digital era.

Article 9 b, introduced by the French Senate1, determines that students "receive information, especially as part of the computing & internet junior high-school degree [B2i], on the risks related to the use of online communication services, on the dangers of downloading and on the unlawful sharing of cultural works, and on the penalties relative to article L. 336-3 of the code of intellectual property regarding counterfeiting. Teachers are also made aware of these."

The promoters of the HADOPI bill aim at setting new ways of supporting artists and new business models to revitalize the cultural industry. However, they leave totally aside the free broadcasting of contents and works under open/free licenses2, whereas they constitute a legal offer that is plentiful for the public3 and yields remuneration to their authors.

These licenses are an appropriate tool for the sharing of knowledge, and are especially suited for the education domain. Inspired by the Free Software movement, such licenses open the way for new business models in line with the digital technologies. The latest album of the group Nine Inch Nails, distributed on peer-to-peer networks under a license allowing the sharing between individuals4, illustrates it well: it is at the top of the most sold albums in 2008 on Amazon's download platform in the United States.

France is not outdone. A proliferation of talented authors and artists authorize the spreading of their work thanks to the Art Libre license5 and the Creative Commons6. There are especially over 30,000 musical works on the Dogmazic platform, 10,000 written works on the website of editor InLibroVeritas, united within the Libre Accès cooperative, which provides an economically just environment helping to provide a fair payment of the artists. Within the teaching domain, the success of the Sésamath project should encourage the legislator to reconsider article 9b. Association Sésamath has been editing for the last 3 years a math manual that is freely sharable and modifiable7, while in the same time answering to the economic constraints of a school manual editor8.

"The government's bill and the speech of its promoters leave aside these experiences and their promising results," explains Jean-Christophe Becquet, administrator of April. He added: "It defends the outdated business models that are ill-adapted to the digital era."

If information is spread, it needs to be neutral and pluralistic. "Regarding any subject, the public authority mustn't have the right to teach opinions as being truths" wrote Condorcet9. As if to ensure a fully partial teaching, an amendment10 by the Rapporteur of the bill asks that this propaganda be taught by "teachers that have been previously trained on the subject". Government with little legitimacy looking for helpers with little morality.

Since education is involved, April reminds the risk that this bill will help develop massive anonymisation and encryption to hide oneself from the Hadopi. "The promoters of article 9b should look into technology as an opportunity rather than a threat", pleads Jean-Christophe Becquet. Downloading is a neutral technology that may and should be taught, provided that the only purpose of it isn't the interest of a few outdated companies and provided that filtering measures don't circumvent teachers' educational freedom. "This way of doing reminds in some ways the "Net Attitude" guide11. Four years later, nothing changed: entertainment lobbies are still trying to impose their propaganda12 within public education. What is appalling is that the legislator goes their way", concludes Frédéric Couchet, April's Executive Director.

Finally, beyond any immediate interests, April fears the drifting that such an article would allow, opening the way for private interests within the public education.

Consult our documentation on this subject: http://www.april.org/fr/article-9-bis-du-projet-de-loi-hadopi-non-a-la-transgression-de-la-neutralite-scolaire-et-commercial

Consult our kit on this bill.

About April

Pioneer of free software in France, April is since 1996 a major player in the democratization 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 and knowledge by private interests.

The association has over 4,500 members, including 211 companies or groups of companies, 124 associations, 4 public authorities, 3 university departments and one university.

April is the French reference association for the promotion and the defense of Free Software.

For more information, you may go to the following website: http://www.april.org/, contact us by phone at +33 178 769 280 or by email at formulaire de contact.


  • Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director, fcouchet@april.org +33 178 769 280 / +33 660 688 931
  • Alix Cazenave, Public Affairs Officer, acazenave@april.org +33 178 769 280 / +33 178 769 280
  • 1. See http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/projets/pl1240.asp:
    Article 9 b (new)
    Article L. 312-9 of the code of education is completed by the following paragraph: "As part of it, they receive information, mainly as part of the computing & internet junior high-school degree, on the risks related to the use of online communication services, on the dangers of downloading and on the unlawful sharing of cultural works, and on the penalties relative to article L. 336-3 of the code of intellectual property regarding counterfeiting. Teachers are also made aware of these."
  • 2. Whether it's music, literature or videos, open/free licenses that allow free sharing are based on copyright laws. All these authorize the free use of the content by the general public, including copying and sharing, and sometimes also the transformation of these works and their commercial use.
  • 3. The most pessimistic estimations indicate that at least 130 millions documents under Creative Commons licenses were listed in June 2008.
  • 4. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA) - See more information on the website of Nine Inch Nails. See also Another musical world is possible, Trent Reznor tells us (FR)
  • 5. The Art Libre license "authorizes anybody (person or institution), having accepted its conditions, to copy, spread and transform a work, as well as to use this work whether commercially or not, provided it is always possible to have an access to its source in order to copy, spread and transform it." (source: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licence_Art_Libre) That way, it provides similar rights than GNU GPL for Free software.
  • 6. "The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to spread the field of creative works for the others, in order to build while sharing legally. The organization has created several licenses, known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the case, restrict only a few rights (or even non at all) on those works, the copyright being much more restrictive." (source: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_commons) These licenses always authorize at least the sharing freely of the works for non-commercial purposes.
  • 7. The Sésamath manual is provided under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) allowing the use, modification and the spreading, including for commercial purposes.
  • 8. For more information, see the interview of Sésamath done by Framasoft in Marc 2006 and the third free math manual by Sésamath.
  • 9. in "Five dissertation on public teaching", 1792.
  • 10. See http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/amendements/1240/124000095.asp
  • 11. See on this topic the press release made by April and FSF France: Can commercial neutrality in public schools be left aside in our digital time?
  • 12. See for instance The use of "protected works" within public education (FR).