The French Courts on Law vs. Technology

From Le Monde today, the French Cour de Cassation (more or less the Supreme Court), declared that making copies of a DVD for personal use violates authors’ rights. On the other hand, the rights of the consumer who legally purchased the DVD and may want to watch it on his laptop or ipod video… those don’t matter.

Michel Gomez, head of the French Producers and Directors association, concludes triumphantly:

“The debate is clear. Either technological evolution changes everything and dictates the evolution of the law, or we decide there are a number of principles dictated by the law and we see how to adapt new technologies accordingly. The court chose the latter.”

Why does it have to be so black and white? Why does one have to entirely dictate the other? Certainly there are some legal principles we shouldn’t compromise, but surely there are others that must evolve. Does allowing copying for personal use truly challenge a deep-seated principle of law? History is chock full of evolutions in the law due to new technologies. New technologies may hurt old business models, but they also create new ones. Resisting technology on the principle that the law is set in stone is, frankly, ludicrous.