French MPs Vote To Legalize P2P File-Sharing

You never know what piece of legislation will slip through in the waning hours of a holiday week. While the Congress was battling over the Patriot Act and driling for oil in Alaska, France’s lower house of parliament voted 30-28 to legalize downloading copyright files. The files have to be for personal use and the user would be required to pay a general licensing fee if the amendments to a digital copyright protection measure stand. The fee of a few euros could be added to ISP bills. There’s a long way to go between the narrow lower-house victory and an actual law; the latter requires passage by the Senate and again in the lower house. Even if it passes the Senate, winning again in the lower house might be harder now that the element of surprise is gone. Roughly 10 percent of the members were present for the late-night vote.
As AFP reports, some entertainers are less than enthusiastic. Michel Sardou said, “If music becomes free, then I want the government’s representatives who work for the public good to also do so for free.” Rapper Joey Starr is offended — “I’m all for an exception for private use, but against my work being pillaged for two cents.” Unions and associations have already chimed in. Michel Gomez, an offical with the Association of Directors and Producers, told the IHT: “The message sent by this law is that creative works can be bought for free. This may be very seductive to Internet users, but it will bring down the structure of entire creative industries.”
The IHT calls it “a move that would legalize in the country what is now considered wholesale piracy in virtually every other nation.” But amendment co-author Patrick Bloche, a Socialist, says it’s about bringing the law up to date with reality.

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