December 22, 2005

Updated: France On A DRM Rampage Blowback!! [3:49 pm]

Download Piaf, Go to Jail

Internet downloaders could face jail sentences and software makers may be required to add anti-copying technology to products distributed in France under draft legislation that’s expected to go to a vote this week.

The so-called emergency legislation would require software makers to include digital-rights management, or DRM, software in their products, according to a draft (.pdf) of the proposed legislation seen by Wired News. Software makers could be liable if their software is used for illicit purposes — whether the software was designed for peer-to-peer networks or office intranets.

French legislators are also calling for three-year jail sentences and fines of 300,000 euros for illegally copying music, video or any other copyright-protected files.

Laws could also be set in place mandating that ISPs shut down accounts of suspected pirates.

Update: Except it didn’t turn out that way at all: France Lawmakers Endorse File-Sharing [pdf]

A French government crackdown on digital piracy backfired Thursday as lawmakers rebelled by endorsing amendments to legalize the online sharing of music and movies instead of punishing it.

[...] An 11th-hour government offer to give illegal downloaders two warnings prior to prosecution was not enough to stem the rebellion. Instead, the amendments voted would legalize file-sharing by anyone paying a monthly royalties duty estimated at $8.50.

Music labels and movie distributors have suggested the amendments would break international laws on intellectual property, and French actors and musicians lined up to condemn the surprise vote.

“To legalize the downloading of our music, almost free of charge, is to kill our work,” venerable rocker Johnny Hallyday said in a statement.

Slashdot’s France to Legalize File Sharing

Johnny Hallyday, again? (Or better, still?)

Later: More details in this Reuters story: France on track to legalize P2P downloading; [pdf]

Consumer groups, including the dominant UFC-Que Choisir, rejoiced at Wednesday night’s vote. “We never expected this, but France has proved yet again that it stands for all kinds of freedom,” a spokesman for the consumer group said Thursday. But judging from the furor the move has caused, “our happiness may be short-lived,” he said.

Slashdot: Free P2P In France?

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