France In The Vanguard

Of something: France Approves Crackdown on Internet Piracy (pdf)

The French National Assembly on Tuesday approved a plan by President Nicolas Sarkozy to punish digital pirates with the possible suspension of their Internet connections, a little more than a month after the same body had rejected the proposal in a surprise vote.

The assembly, the lower house of Parliament, voted 296 to 233 in favor of the bill, the furthest-reaching legislative initiative yet in the global battle by the music and movie industries against unauthorized copying of their works. The bill would create a new agency that would send warning letters to copyright violators; those who ignored two warnings would lose their Internet service.

Passage was expected because Mr. Sarkozy’s government closed ranks after losing the previous vote in April, when insufficient members of his party, U.M.P., appeared for the vote. The Culture Ministry hailed the outcome Tuesday as an important step toward “preserving cultural diversity and the industries threatened by piracy.”

Approval in the upper house, the Senate, is expected Wednesday. The sponsor of the bill in the National Assembly, Franck Riester, has said that the first penalties could occur next year.

Opponents say, however, that the plan is saddled with provisions that would make the system difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.

Before the measure goes into effect, it also faces several potential hurdles. […]