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 Post subject: IT News: Web pirates to be welcomed in France
PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 10:10 pm 
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Film makers and record companies are outraged by a parliamentary vote to make France the first country in the world to legalise the online sharing of movies and music.

In a decision that flies in the face of international efforts to crack down on web piracy, the French parliament passed an amendment to permit file-sharing by users willing to pay royalties on top of internet subscriptions.

For a monthly payment of a few pounds, people would be able to download as much material as they wished.

The vote is acutely embarrassing for the French culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. His draft bill on intellectual property rights included gradual penalties which start with warnings but lead to fines of up to £200,000 and three years in jail.

Only about 60 members were in the French lower house for the vote late at night earlier this week. But 22 of the 30 MPs supporting the amendment were from the ruling centre-Right UMP.

With actors and musicians threatening to march on the Assemblée Nationale in protest, the prime minister Dominique de Villepin has stepped into the row.

He has given himself three weeks to convince UMP members that the stakes are higher than they supposed. Critics of the rebels say there is little sign that they had fully thought through their gesture.

If the amendment did survive further parliamentary scrutiny, it would technically apply only in France. But global access to the internet raises issues of wider concern. Promoters of the amendment described it as an imperfect but practical measure. Christian Paul, a Socialist MP, said: "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."

But Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the French version of Rambo films, said: "This law throws us back to before the French Revolution. France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this parliament wants to vote them away."

Nicolas Seydoux, the chief executive of the French cinema company Gaumont SA, said: "The vote puts the livelihoods of people in the music and film industry at risk."

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