French reseller can't sell OpenBSD

by Jacek Artymiak

Related link:

The author of the original message claims that the local French laws forbid the sale of non-localized software to non-business customers.

If true, this is another case of "customer protection" gone too far. If enforced with the same diligence as described in the original message, it could hurt the sales of all Open Source software to the wide public in France.

BTW. If you are in France and want to purchase OpenBSD for your own private use, you should still be able to do it online. Of course, you should check your local laws first.

Does your country implement similar customer protection laws? Do they apply to software?

2003-11-01 09:56:00
French localization
This isn't strange for the French government, which is notorious for creating neologisms to replace foreign (especially American) phrases and terms.

The French people use terms like "le weekend," while the government insists on "fin de la semaine" or something like that. (Pardon my imperfect French.)

They are probably still stumped as to how to translate "OpenBSD" -- it will probably come out something like: "the very secure open source counterpart to the computer operating system of the University at Berkeley."

En francais, bien sur!

2003-11-03 07:53:59
French localization
Well, personally, I don't see anything wrong with this ruling. If anything, it should just awake the open source community to pay more attention to internationalization and localization. For example, in subversion, why are these features not part of the 1.0 feature plans? It seems like very basic stuff to me.

Moreover, I am not French either, but I guarantee you that "fin de la semaine" was in use much earlier than "le weekend". It is a matter of correctness of the language, that is all. Americans did not invent the weekend, trust me.

2003-11-03 14:30:45
They call it Culture Protection but....
it's actually culture fossilization.
2003-11-05 01:05:07
Seing people from all over the world writing in English in newsgroups doesn't mean everybody is that at ease with English. Learning a new os can be quite challenging by itself without having to struggle with the documentation language at the same time.

What can hurt the sales of open source software in France (and other countries) is *not* translating the manuals and documentation - Microsoft products have nearly perfect translations.
That effort is not unbearable - check Debian.

2003-11-05 04:25:59
French localization
What is wrong with the law is the principle behind it.
In France NOTHING may be sold if it has no French interface.
This does not just extend to software, but also product packaging.
For example, if you sell bottles of shampoo, you'll have to make a different bottle for France with French text on it (or make a single bottle with several languages) of not just the usage instructions but the product name as well.
I don't know if this extends to the printed press, but if it doesn't there's almost certainly a law that states that a book cannot be sold in France unless a French language translation is also available at the same price or less.
2003-11-05 12:32:45
French localization
That's not true.
The instructions must be translated, not the product name.
You can find 'Head and Shoulders' shampoo in every supermarket.
You can buy 'Minute Maid' orange juice, 'Starship Troopers' videos, etc...
For the printed press, go to the 'Livre en anglais' section on and see all theses English and American titles for which no translation exists.