Sunday, August 1, 1999

The Internet, legality, and you


By Denise Amrich

Not long ago, David Gewirtz, editor-in-chief of Windows CE Power Magazine, received an amusing (if slightly disturbing) letter. I'd like to share that letter and David's response to it with you:

French fried

I am quite disturbed that your webzine [for the record, we hate the word "zine". Windows CE Power is a magazine. - DA] is written only in English. I am in France and we have laws here that requiring you to display your Inter-net site in French. You must show honoring of this law to be continued to be allowed to show your site in this country.

Do not showing my electronic address for I do not want advertising mail.

Jorge Luis Tardieu
Saint Etienne

David Gewirtz replies

Well, no. Actually, the 1994 Toubon law is designed for advertising, stating that all advertising displayed in France, while it may be in other languages, must also be in French. But the fact is, we're not in France and we're not aiming at the French populace specifically. In fact, a rather silly lawsuit brought by the groups Defense of the French Language and Future of the French Language against Georgia Tech Lorraine, the Georgia Institute of Technology's French campus, was thrown out of court back in 1998.

We welcome readers from all countries but, at this point, our content is going to be in English. Some day, we'll investigate some form of automated translation software, but until then, you get English. If we do run translation software, we'll do it for all available languages, not just French simply because the French government complains the loudest.

But, just for you, this one time, I asked AltaVista to translate my reply. Something about telling you (in French) that we won't translate our site into French just tickles my funny bone:

Bien, non. En fait, 1994 Toubon loi concevoir pour annoncer, enoncer que tout annoncer, tandis que pouvoir dans autre langage, devoir aussi dans fran