The Big Four record labels are fighting tooth and nail to kill the French decision to make it legal to share music and movies online. MPs, who’ve already voted once on the matter, will debate it again next week and if they confirm the earlier decision, turning it into law, France will become the first country to make it legal to share copyrighted music online.
“The surprise vote caused outrage among record companies and film producers, who say illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) copying costs their industries millions of euros every year,” says the BBC. “It was an embarrassing defeat for the government, which had planned to introduce large fines and possible jail terms of up to three years for internet pirates.
“Seventeen year old Aziz Ridouan became so angry at the number of people already being taken to court that he started up his own pressure group.
“Today, the Audiosurfers Association has 6,000 members. It campaigns for a change in the law and helps defend those being prosecuted.”
Socialist MP Patrick Bloche, who helped draft the amendment, argues, “Rather than outlawing, punishing, and paradoxically maintaining to a certain extent an illegal system. Let’s make a different choice: authorising peer-to-peer downloading, but in return, putting in place a system allowing artists to be paid.”
Then the Big Four, Vivendi Universal (France), EMI, (Britain), Sony BMG (Japan, Germany) and Warner Music (US) pulled their well-worn trick of mobilising contracted performers such Johnny Hallyday, “to protest, arguing that revenue from a global licence wouldn’t compensate for the millions they say they risk losing through falling CD sales,” says the story.
Nonetheless, “The MPs’ vote in December sent the government scuttling off to redraft its bill,” says the BBC. “It has since spent two months in consultations with artists, industry representatives and internet users to try to reach a compromise. More than 13,000 musicians signed a petition in favour of the global licence. A website set up to encourage a debate on P2P copying was inundated with replies.”
France’s latest plan still rejects global licensing, “although it agrees that private copying should be allowed,” and, “The sanctions for illegal copying have been reduced considerably, with fines beginning at 38 euros (Â£26, about $46) ) for small-scale piracy.”
Meanwhile, people in France aren’t entitled to make personal copies of DVDs, even if they don’t distribute them, France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation in Paris, has ruled, overturning an earlier decision by a lower court.