New Rules for Scooters
Saturday January 03rd 2009, 3:00 am
Filed under: cars/bikes/etc,conspiracy theories,daily life,french laws,news,politics,tips

vespa scooters
Some time during the 90s, Europe passed legislation that alllowed driver’s license holders, experienced with at least 2 years of driving, to also legally drive scooters up to 125 cc. If the scooter was less than 80 cc, you didn’t need a license or training at all (So it was very common to see 14-year-olds driving these scooters on the road…). This is about to change because of the non-negligible percentage of traffic death due to scooters (scooters and motorcycles account for 10.1% of all traffic accidents and 18% of all traffic deaths.) I believe the number of scooter drivers increased particularly in the last few years because of the sudden inflation, rising gas costs and exorbitant price of getting a car driver’s license.

Strangely, a new law was passed during the wee hours of the night on Christmas eve 2008, and just a few days later, the law became in effect January 1, 2009. That’s probably one of the quickest passed laws in France, ever.

So, here’s the result: The Ministry of the Interior has enforced that car drivers (with Type B permit and 2 years of driving experience and driving a scooter 51 cc to 125cc) either get a motorbike license (Type A) or follow a specific, 3-hour scooter training, involving emergency breaking and balancing alone and with a passenger – which costs between €110 to €180 depending on the moto école.

The 14-year olds+ driving scooters less than 50 cc are obligated to follow a different training called Le Brevet de Sécurité Routière (BSR).

If you are caught without a permit you risk a fine of €135 and a retraction of 3 points from your driver’s license.

Will the Ministry of the Interior follow with imposing a mandatory training for bicyclists? We wonder…

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French Record Labels Suing Limewire, SourceForge and Sue Vuze
Tuesday November 25th 2008, 8:42 pm
Filed under: articles,daily life,french laws,news,products,weird

From torrentfreak:

“French record labels have received the green light to sue four US-based companies that develop P2P applications, including the BitTorrent client Vuze, Limewire and Morpheus. Shareaza is the fourth application, for which the labels are going after the open source development platform SourceForge.

Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), an umbrella group for several record labels in France, claims that the four file-sharing applications facilitate mass copyright infringement. Although the companies (and applications) themselves have nothing to do with copyright infringement, SPPF believes it has a strong case.

The record labels argue that the Vuze and the others are knowingly distributing software with the purpose to permit unauthorized access to copyrighted works. In essence they are saying that everything, or every application which allows a user to share files, will be indeed used for illegal purposes. In contrast, in the US, companies that don’t encourage their users to commit copyright infringement with their applications, are not acting illegally.

SPPF had already sued the various companies and organizations last year, but until now it has been unclear whether the US based companies behind the applications could be prosecuted under French law. A French court has now ruled that this is indeed possible, which means that they can proceed to court.

Recent French legislation which inspired the labels to go after the P2P companies, suggests that all P2P applications must have a feature to block the transfer of unauthorized copyright works. The clients that are sued by SPPF obviously don’t have such a feature. In fact, it is questionable whether it would be technically possible to develop such a filter. Nevertheless, SPPF demands it, and is claiming millions of dollars in damages for lost revenue.

Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa stated in a response to TorrentFreak, “While we appreciate the intent of the new French law, we believe SPPF’s complaint is misguided. Vuze is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content using new technology. In that sense, our interests are aligned with the interests of all content owners, including SPPF’s members, against piracy.”

“We are disappointed that SPPF has taken this approach, given that our business is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content,” BianRosa added. “SPPF’s claims against Vuze are simply wrong. The Vuze business complies fully with both French and American law. The recent ruling of the French Court was solely on a jurisdictional issue, not on any merits, and we believe it is in error.”

Interestingly, SPPF is also going after Sourceforge, the open source development website, because it hosts the P2P application Shareaza. Putting aside the discussion on the responsibilities of application developers for their users activities, the decision to go after SourceForge for hosting a application that can potentially …” Read the full article



Online Piracy Has Become a ‘National Sport’ in France
Saturday November 08th 2008, 9:40 am
Filed under: articles,daily life,french laws,games/software/tech,news,weird

From torentfreak:

“Edging ever closer to becoming law, France’s “three-strikes” proposals have received support in the French Senate which voted overwhelmingly in favor for these draconian measures to deal with piracy. Now, a new report suggests that online piracy has become something of a ‘national sport’ in France.

The online file-sharing debate is really heating up in France. Contrary to advice from the European Court of Justice, France is pressing ahead with its plan for a controversial “3 strikes” or “graduated response” framework to deal with alleged file-sharers. Now, supported by a Le Figaro headline, “Piracy Has Become a National Sport in France”, a new study from market research company TNS Sofres is set to add fuel to the fire.

According to the poll of 2,011 people over 15 years old, the French use a diverse range of digital media to store or play pirated content. Of those questioned, 34% said their media players contained pirated files, with 20% admitting they go as far as using external hard drives to store illicit content. The USB storage key was used by 8% of respondents to shift illegal content, with 7% admitting to using mutimedia-capable cellphones.

Although the piracy ‘problem’ seems to be massive in France, it is certainly not limited to that one country. Just over the English Channel from France lies the UK, where an estimated 6 million people engage in online piracy – roughly 10% of the population. Across the pond, in the United States, a 2007 study found that 18 percent of the total US online population downloaded at least 1 movie from the Internet, illegally.

The French survey shows that the ‘problem’ is not limited to the younger generation, as is often assumed – it affects the entire population. The report further suggests that the actual numbers might be much greater than reported, but with news of draconian measures to deal with online piracy making headlines regularly, just how many people are prepared to be honest about their piracy habits?” [source]

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Why Coffee and Cafes in France Have Gone Downhill

french coffee and cafes going downhill

Over several years now, a strange thing has happened in France: the coffee started to suck. Yes, there were cafes that served terrible coffee forever, but for the most part in the early 2000s, it was still flavorful, very drinkable sludge espresso. It was French coffee, the coffee that I expected to have each time I came to France. I liked it, and the quality was very consistent from cafe to cafe. So when we moved to France six years ago, I was happy to be able to live the cafe experience, meeting people, hanging out, watching passers-by and sipping tasty coffee as often as I pleased. I used to always be surprised that I wouldn’t get the shakes if I had a double shot. However, soon afterward, I began not really enjoying my cuppa because of a declining quality, and in some cases, I developed a strange rash from drinking some brands of coffee, not to mention, getting the shakes (which I get when I drink American coffee). Slowly and surely, I reduced my consumption of coffee, and today, I don’t drink any coffee, whatsoever.

I miss it but I can’t seem to find anything I like. Apparently, I am not alone.

More and more people have stopped going to cafes, which has forced many cafes to close. In fact, since the beginning of this year, 610 cafes in France have closed their doors to the public forever. They just couldn’t make it. Many of these cafes had been in business for many generations.

Why did this happen? Expert have found many reasons that have played a contributing role, but for me, ultimately two were responsible, and it’s specifically these reasons that acted as the final coups de grace:

1.) The Case of the Free Coffee Machines – In the early 2000s, thousands of cafes were offered “free machines” for their establishments. “Free” is not entirely accurate and this “free” had heavy strings attached. In exchange for the free machines, the cafes were obliged to use coffee supplied by the company that offered the free machines. Guess what? That coffee is CRAP, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which company offered the free machines. (see appropriately numbered, number 2 below)

2.) Good coffee companies were bought by evil corporations – There is no doubt in my mind that corporate mergers brought quality down in coffee; it happened right before my very eyes and taste buds.

There are other factors why cafes have shut down.

3.) People stopped going to cafes. Why? The coffee sucked! Also #4 below.

4.) Weak Purchasing Power – Crazy inflation occurred when France turned to the euro. Prices went up but salaries did not. That said, even with less money to dedicate to little luxuries, I feel that people would still frequent cafes if the coffee was good.

5.) The popularity of home coffee makers using capsules – I hate these with a passion, and I hate that they have become so popular. I don’t care what they taste like because I find them to be very unfriendly to the environment. So wasteful. Why oh WHY did George Cluny agree to do those “What Else” spots? Doesn’t he CARE? Having said that, I think people in general were looking for alternatives to find more tasty coffees since they couldn’t find them at the cafes.

6.) The Smoking Ban – Since smoking is no longer allowed in cafes, that has hurt businesses in a big way.

Related: Dirty Secrets of a Paris Cafe Waiter, What happens when Europeans watch too much American TV, Bamboo Coffee Filters,

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Orange to Rate Environmental Impact of Cell Phones, But What About Health Impacts of Cell Phones?

From macworld:

“Network operator Orange will rate the environmental impact of the fixed-line and mobile phones it sells, it said Friday.

The company will publish eco-ratings for the first 30 products on its French Web-site in mid-October and will extend it to all the products it sells next year, it said.

Orange is the brand used by France Télécom for its mobile phone and Internet access activities in France, the U.K. and other European countries. Orange is the exclusive service provider for Apple’s iPhone in France; it also provides iPhone service in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Liechtenstein, Romania, and Slovakia.

Orange’s ratings initially concern its French stores and networks, and are based on five indicators, compiled by the company BIO Intelligence Service:

* CO2 assessment, a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the phone’s manufacture and use;
* Energy efficiency, a gauge of the phone’s power consumption and of any features that allow consumption to be reduced;
* Resource preservation, a broad rating of whether the materials used to make the product are nonrenewable or whether, like the gold and tantalum used in electrical connections and capacitors, they come from what Orange describes as “sensitive economic or social environments”;
* Limitation of dangerous substances, a measure of whether the phone avoids the use of toxic chemicals—although the most dangerous of these are already prohibited by European Union law;
* Waste reduction, a rating of whether the device can be repaired and whether it or its packaging can be recycled.

Orange’s program, developed in conjunction with environmental group WWF, could give the French government some food for thought.

After the success of an eco-tax to penalize buyers of polluting vehicles and reward purchasers of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions, the government had talked of extending the measures to other products. Those plans were postponed last month because, the government said, there were no clear environmental criteria for products other than cars.

In France mobile phones—and most other electrical and electronic goods—are already subject to a special tax called “eco-participation,” intended to fund recycling of the products at the end of their lives. Although the current eco-tax on mobile phones differs from that for, say, photocopiers, it’s the same for all models of phone, and at just €0.01 (US$.01), is nowhere near enough to influence customers to choose more environmentally friendly products.”

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