Film Director Helps Finance Busted File-Sharer’s Legal Battle

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A film director and outspoken opponent of copyright abuses and incoming "3 strikes" legislation has come to the rescue of a file-sharer. Jean-Luc Godard, who is due to receive an honorary Oscar in November, has donated money to a photographer's legal fund after he was caught with more than 13,000 music tracks and subsequently ordered to pay more than $25,000 damages.

For all the wrong reasons, 2005 was a memorable year for James Climent. A French national and photographer, Climent is also a keen file-sharer but five years ago his hobby landed him in hot water. After sharing thousands of music files using the Soulseek P2P application, he received an unwelcome visit from two police officers.

“I had 13,788 mp3 files on my hard drive when the police came to search,” Climent told Alexandre Hervaud of Ecrans.

“And now I’ve got more than 30,000.”

One could be forgiven for thinking that this particular 37 year-old is a little defiant. At the first hearing of his case in 2007, against his lawyer’s advice he pleaded ‘Not Guilty’.

“Even today, it’s the only thing I really regret,” Climent recalls.

In 2009, with unsuccessful appeals behind him but still unrepentant, Climent was ordered to pay music collection societies SACEM and SDRM compensation totaling 20,000 euros ($25,600). In June 2010 his final appeal was rejected.

Climent, who had to borrow money from his sister to pay his legal costs, doesn’t have the funds to settle. Even if he did, he says, he wouldn’t pay the money “as a matter of principle”.

Instead, Climent – who is bemused that someone should punished so heavily for “sharing culture” – is going on the offensive. He will now take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The procedure will be a long one – at least two years – and will probably be expensive. To this end Climent is trying to raise funds for his fight and has set a goal of raising 5,000 euros. In early September his fund raising drive received a quite unexpected boost – support from film director Jean-Luc Godard.

“A few days ago I received an email from Godard’s producer, who wrote on behalf of the director. He has decided to support me to pay my defense costs,” explained Climent.

Godard, a 79 year-old who has been in the business for 60 years, is an outspoken opponent of copyright abuses, not least France’s upcoming anti-filesharing Hadopi legislation.

“Copyright is not a possibility, really, ” he said recently. “An author has no right. I have no right. I only have duties. I’m against Hadopi, of course. There is no intellectual property.”

Due to receive an honorary Oscar later this year in acknowledgment of his services to entertainment, Godard has pledged support and donated 1,000 euros to Climent’s fighting fund.

“So God (ard) is with us,” said a grateful Climent this week.

With Godard’s addition, around 2225 euros have been raised so far. But more is needed.

Those who would like to help James Climent in his fight can donate via the PayPal and Flattr buttons on his blog.


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