French lawmakers legalise downloads of music, movies

22nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 22 (AFP) - In a rare and possibly short-lived victory for millions of French Internet users who download music and movies, France's lower house of parliament has voted to legalise peer-to-peer file-sharing.

PARIS, Dec 22 (AFP) - In a rare and possibly short-lived victory for millions of French Internet users who download music and movies, France's lower house of parliament has voted to legalise peer-to-peer file-sharing.

The surprise decision -- adopted 30 votes to 28 in a nearly empty chamber late Wednesday -- runs counter to moves in most other Western countries, where legislators are seeking to stamp out copyright violations via the Internet by declaring such downloads illegal.

The measure, introduced as two amendments to a government bill designed to toughen digital copyright protection, would deem that downloading copyrighted files is legal as long as it is for private use only and the downloader pays a general fee for royalty payments.

Such a fee could, for instance, be added on to the monthly subscription charge for broadband Internet access at the cost of a few euros, supporters of the amendments said.

The government, caught off guard by the vote, which was backed by 22 MPs from the ruling UMP party, has called for a second vote in the National Assembly.

The measure in any case would have to pass the Senate and again the lower house before it becomes law.

"Today, there are more than eight million Internet users who download in France and we still have the gall to say that these eight million people are law-breakers and thieves," Christine Boutin, one of the UMP members who voted for the amendments, told France-Inter radio.

She admitted that the government may not be swayed by the arguments for a general downloading payment, "but it's too late: the debate is already out there in society."

Some French entertainers, though, raised an outcry over the parliamentary vote, fearing their livelihoods would be threatened if it became law.

"If music becomes free, then I want the government's representatives who work for the public good to also do so for free," singer Michel Sardou said.

"I'm all for an exception for private use, but against my work being pillaged for two cents," rapper Joey Starr railed.

Groups representing companies in the cinema and music industries issued a joint statement decrying what they described as "the expropriation of authors' rights on the Internet" and calling for the government to step in.

The statement was signed by the SFA-CGT entertainers' union, the USPA union for audiovisual production and the BLOC federation for cinema organisations, among others.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article