France prepares tougher stance on digital piracy

19th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 19 (AFP) - French MPs this week are to examine a bill that, if passed, would impose tough restrictions on digital copies of music, software and films, despite an outcry from consumer groups that fear ordinary Internet users will be punished.

PARIS, Dec 19 (AFP) - French MPs this week are to examine a bill that, if passed, would impose tough restrictions on digital copies of music, software and films, despite an outcry from consumer groups that fear ordinary Internet users will be punished.

The draft law is to be debated by the lower house of parliament Tuesday and Wednesday before being sent to the upper house under a streamlined emergency procedure invoked by the government with the aim of quickly bringing France into line with a 2001 EU law on copyright protection.

Essentially, the measure would allow companies making CDs, DVDs or other products with digital files on them to include technical measures that would stop users directly making copies, and would make it illegal for anybody to try and break those measures.

Allowing such restrictions, however, could render disks unreadable on car stereos, on computers -- and undermine the right of individual users to make personal copies of legally bought works.

French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said Monday that he believed the bill represented "a good balance" for protecting cultural works from widespread piracy.

"Totally free culture on the Internet is deceiving, because remunerating creators is not only legitimate, it is also necessary for the renewal of creativity and cultural diversity," he told a media conference.

He said the bill provides for a mediation body that would ensure that users would continue to be able to make private copies and stressed that the law was only aimed at people "who profit financially" from illegal copying.

Individuals who ignore copyright by downloading commercial files for free from peer-to-peer or other Internet sites would be subject to a "graduated" enforcement procedure that would see them first sent a warning letter or e-mail to stop the activity, he said.

Consumer groups such as UFC-Que Choisir and royalty collection bodies are concerned that the law could stifle the circulation of unprotected works on the Internet by shutting down peer-to-peer sites and impose unwanted restriction software on users' computers.

Many have called for France to instead opt for a model under which users pay a set royalty fee giving them the right to make non-commercial copies from whatever source -- in effect extending a royalty tax on blank CDs, DVDs and computer memory that already exists.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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