Friday, December 23, 2005


It's not going to be a cosy Christmas for record and movie executives - a bid to get French law reshaped to their desires has been rebuffed with a last-minute ammendment. The government had been pushing through legislation that would have introduced fines for people putting copy-protected material onto peer to peer networks of about a third of a million Euros. Oh, and three years in prison.

The French lower house, though, passed an ammendment which would allow anyone to fill their boots on filesharing networks in return for a seven Euro royalty.

Naturally, the industry is having kittens - cute, Christmas kittens - but kittens nevertheless:

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

The actors' and musicians' branch of France's largest trade union, the CFDT, said the plan "would mean the death of our country's music and audiovisual industries."

The proposed royalties duty amounts to a "Sovietization" of the arts, said Bernard Miyet, president of the French music composers' and publishers' organization SACEM.

"You're talking about an administered price, set by a commission without regard to the music and film economy," Miyet said.

Hmm. They might have a point. But let's not forget this ammendment was proposed in response to a call for a punishment which had been set without regard to any actual damage that might have been done to the copyright holder. If the industry can pluck a "three year and third of a million" fine out the air, why shouldn't the people pluck a price out the same air in response? And perhaps the government is smart enough to know that if you set the price too high, people will just not bother paying.

There's also some moaning that this might contravene international law - although since the music industry has happily pocketed cash raised from levies in return for allowing people to use, say, blank tapes in some countries, there would appear to be a precedent that they've embraced before now.

The lower house returns to vote again on January 17th, and then it'll only take one more vote in Senate to make it law. (Ironically, the copyright industry's pressing for swift action had led the government to introduce a short-circuited lawmaking route for this one).


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