XXIV. AFNOR copyrighting the Law and Żuk A06 air vents according to regulation NF EN 721:2004

AFNOR: Law ©, regulation™? Nemo censetur ignorare legem?

Produced by the European Committee for Standardization,  regulation NF EN 721, regarding air vents in camper-van, is enforced by Law in France. Strangely enough, AFNOR publishing the document wants you to pay to get unrestricted access to it. Reminds me ancient roman history courses; no one would expect a modern society to bar access or monetize access to laws and regulations. Since 2009, AFNOR is supposed to give free access to any regulation that is enforced by law:

Les normes sont d’application volontaire.

Toutefois, les normes peuvent être rendues d’application obligatoire par arrêté signé du ministre chargé de l’industrie et du ou des ministres intéressés.

Les normes rendues d’application obligatoire sont consultables gratuitement sur le site internet de l’Association française de normalisation.

It’s 2016 and getting access to NF EN 721 through AFNOR website is still more or less impossible. And if you manage to do it, you’ll only get some half-baked read access. As stated on their website:

Comment puis-je visualiser les normes d’application obligatoire sur la boutique AFNOR Éditions ?

Le dispositif de consultation des normes d’application obligatoire sur la boutique AFNOR Éditions fait appel à la solution technique FileOpen.

Pour être en mesure de consulter une norme sous ce format, votre poste de travail doit être équipé du plug-in FileOpen.

Si vous ne disposez pas du plug-in, ou si vous n’êtes pas sûr de le posséder alors cliquez ICI pour débuter l’installation, l’opération ne prendra que quelques instants.

Sachez également que pour consulter la norme demandée, vous devez préalablement vous identifier sur la boutique AFNOR Éditions.

Yeah, AFNOR thinks that when law says AFNOR will give free reading access it could be like AFNOR will give access to registered user through a proprietary plugin that works on a limited set of computers, which you have no clue what it is doing to your computer, which is published by non-French and non-European private company, and all this after going through some registration process.

Basically, AFNOR consider that law and regulation can fall under copyright rules:

Pourquoi les normes d’application obligatoire ne sont-elles pas téléchargeables gratuitement ?

Les normes d’application obligatoire sont soumises comme toutes les normes au droit d’auteur.

La vente des normes permet de financer les travaux d’élaboration, ainsi que les investissements liés à leur publication (homologation, mise en page, archivage, distribution..). Sans cela, le système normatif français (mais aussi européen et international) ne pourrait exister.

En achetant une norme, vous contribuez ainsi à pérenniser ce modèle régulièrement valorisé par les professionnels et les instances gouvernementales

They give us a sob story saying that norms (and Laws, then) would not exists without copyright. They ought to mention that AFNOR is stated sponsored, up to ~ 17 000 000 € in 2008. A part of this cash might be used by AFNOR to produce advertisements (easy access, no plugin or registration required) :

    • Le droit d’auteur, les normes et internet, AFNOR éditions
  • Tout savoir sur le droit d’auteur, AFNOR éditions

In Tout savoir sur le droit d’auteur, first they brag about being the only norm publisher allowed by law. And then they say norms are protected by article L111-1 et suivants du Code de la propriété intellectuelle (which they write: “code de la Propriété Intellectuelle”, which is wrong in french typography –a norm!– but gives clues about their state of mind). But if you actually read this article L111-1, it does not mention “norms”. It barely states that public entities can retain copyright. What about the following articles? L112-2 provides a example list of what is protected by copyright: Laws and norms aren’t named. Could a Law or a norm be considered as “autres écrits littéraires, artistiques et scientifiques” – unlikely.

They want to be protected according to L. 111-1 et suivants du Code de la propriété intellectuelle? OK. L121-2 states that “L’auteur a seul le droit de divulguer son oeuvre […] il détermine le procédé de divulgation et fixe les conditions de celle-ci.”. But Décret n° 2009-697 du 16 juin 2009 relatif à la normalisation breached this right already. The law already broke AFNOR copyright, without explanation.

As a matter of fact, as long as a norm is not enforced by Law, we can consider it as a copyrighted good practice booklet. But as soon as it is enforced by Law, how can anyone think copyright still applies? What next? Nemo censetur ignorare legem, how can we not have unrestricted read/copy access to it? Conseil d’Etat already stated that homologation d’une norme/standard approval belongs to the State:

Considérant que, lorsqu’il homologue des normes, sur délégation du conseil d’administration de l’association française de normalisation, […], le directeur général de cette association ne se borne pas à exprimer une recommandation destinée aux “partenaires économiques, scientifiques, techniques et sociaux” mentionnés à l’article 1er dudit décret, mais prend une décision qui présente, en raison des effets qui y sont attachés, un caractère réglementaire ; qu’ainsi la légalité d’une telle décision peut être contestée devant le juge administratif, tant par la voie de l’action que par celle de l’exception

Conseil d’Etat, 6 / 2 SSR, du 14 octobre 1991


NF EN 721:2004 summary

I consider describing this Law-enforced norm as fair use: we need this (NF EN 721) knowledge to abide by the Law, no one is supposed to ignore the Law, hence this is required public knowledge.

(I am quite sure AFNOR could make a nice Streisand-effect to challenge this)

Vents size

NF EN 721 evaluate the size of required vents depending on the van area = max lenght (L) x max width (l). Yeah, as it was an empty cube, not according to the actual interior space.


So for a Żuk A06/A07/etc, it is 4,225 x 1,768 = 7,46 m²



Vents size then should be according to this table:

area = max lenght x max width (m²) rooftop or upper side vents (cm²) lower vents (cm²)
area ≤ 5 75 or 150 10
5 > area  ≤ 10 100 or 200 15
10 > area  ≤ 15 125 or 250 20
15 > area  ≤ 20 200 or 400 50
enclosed toilets or bathroom null null
enclosed other area with no gaz/fuel/etc device 15 or 30 5

Vent size is defined by the actual opening to the outside, excluding area masked by the vent grill.

Vents placements

As you noticed, rooftoop vents need only half the area of upper side vents. Vents placement is strictly defined:

    • lower vents must not be be higher than 100 mm from the vehicule ground level;
    • higher vents must not be lower than 1800 mm from the vehicule ground level (ahem) and at least 300 mm higher than the peak of any fully deployed bed;
  • no vent can be at less than 300mm from any kind of fumes exhausts.

This seems to actually prevent any side vent on a Żuk A06/A07/etc.

My pick

For the lower vent (min 1500mm²), I decided that it will be through the floor, just near the passage from cabin to cargo area. I’d rather avoid having too many visible grill on the side, it should not be a concern when it rains, it is away  from exhaust fumes and should not be covered unknowingly since it is on the way.  It also do not require cutting body parts, only the wooden floor.

For the higher vent, I do not like that much the idea of cutting through the roof and putting ton of glue/mastic to attach some plastic apparatus.  At first I considered putting a vent on the back, the highest possible, on between the top back door hinges. But rain-wise, it might lead to unforeseen troubles. And, once again, I’d like to avoid altering too much the structure. So the best bet might to actually just enlarge one or both factory side vents:

Putting a vent on both side might be the most discrete change. But that cannot be decided before when the inside setup is decided. It’ll also depend to what kind of grill I manage to find.

Note that it does not follow the 1800mm from ground level rule. That rule makes no sense  for light small volume camper vans anyway.

Update 2019: the 2018 (french) article Les normes, l’Afnor et leur financement — Ou pourquoi les normes ne sont pas près de devenir gratuites is a must read. No reason to be optimistic, unfortunately.

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