French Magazine Fined €10,000 For Encouraging Piracy

The music industry has won a landmark ruling in France where a local magazine was fined €10,000 for showing readers how and where pirated films and music can be downloaded. The ruling is the first of its kind and serves as a warning to other publications that write about online piracy.

download-keyboardLast summer the bimonthly computer magazine “Téléchargement,” French for “Download,” released an issue documenting the various ways people can pirate films, TV-shows, games and music on the Internet.

The cover featured a pirate skull and advertised “the best software and websites to download for free.”

The local music industry group SCPP was appalled by the controversial issue and decided to take legal action in response. According to the group’s CEO Marc Guez the magazine publishers had gone too far.

“A line had been crossed,” Guez told Next INpact. “This is a magazine which clearly and shamelessly incited piracy. That’s what prompted us to act.”

The music industry group highlighted what they believe were inciting passages. For example, it described torrent clients such as uTorrent and BitComet, noting that it’s easy to find infringing content through Google search.

“There’s no need to dive into the depths of the deep Web for pirate downloads, Google will make sure they’ll surface. With some clever keywords and in a handful of clicks you will fill your hard drives with joy and laughter,” it read.

“We offer an overview of the best torrent clients plus some tips and tricks to entertain you,” the magazine added.

Other passages of the magazine mentioned specific tips and websites where pirated content is available, mentioning how easy it is to download movies and music without paying for it.

SCPP took the magazine publisher to court claiming it had violated French copyright law. Specifically, they argued that the publisher willingly encouraged its readers to use software that’s predominantly used to share copyright infringing material.

Under French law it’s forbidden to “knowingly encourage” the use of software that’s clearly meant to infringe copyrights, with a maximum prison sentence of three years and a €300,000 fine.

The publisher contested the claims, noting that the magazine repeatedly emphasized that piracy is illegal. However, according to the court this was not enough.

Earlier this month the court of Nanterre handed down its verdict ruling that the publisher indeed went too far. The court issued a €10,000 fine, which is roughly the amount that was made through the sale of the magazine.

The music industry is happy with the outcome, noting that it’s the first time that a news outlet has been found guilty of inciting piracy under this section of copyright law. The ruling is final and can’t be appealed.

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