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France OKs legislation to cut Internet to illegal downloaders

26 октября 2009

France will send out the first warnings to digital pirates early next year after passing tough legislation allowing for Internet access to be cut for those who illegally download movies and music, a minister said.

The Constitutional Court passed the law to the joy of President Nicolas Sarkozy and anger of Internet libertarians in France and other countries which are considering copying the French example.

Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said the members of a watchdog to oversee application of the digital clampdown would be named in November and the first warnings would go out "from the start of 2010."

The law sets up an agency that will send out an e-mail warning to people found to be illegally downloading films or music. A written warning is sent if a second offense is registered in six months and after a third, a judge will be able to order a one-year Internet rights suspension or a fine.

Mitterrand called the law an "innovative and educational mechanism to prevent piracy."

Sarkozy said:"France now has a very innovative system to protect the rights of authors, artists and their partners in the Internet universe."

But in a reference to complaints about the restrictions, the French president said all sides had to work to make sure "there is a civilized Internet."

France's Society of Drama Authors and Composers welcomed the new digital protection and said the government should now consider making search engines pay towards "the financing of creation."

But opponents say it won't prevent illegal file-sharing and that cutting Internet access is unfair because of the commercial and now political importance of having the Worldwide Web.

Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog, said the law was "a serious blow to freedom of expression on the Internet."

It said access to the Internet was a "fundamental right at the basis of our democracy: the right of access to information. They will have to be extremely vigilant in the way this law is applied," the group said in a statement.

La Quadrature Du Net, a group that had campaigned against the law, called it "legally and technically absurd."

The Socialist Party had referred the law to the Constitutional Court but the left was also divided with many artists traditionally following the party but also supporting the right wing government's move. The court had blocked the law once but this time only rejected an article which allowed for damages to be claimed from digital pirates.

The U.K. is considering a similar law to France and the European Commission said Thursday it was now looking at Europe-wide regulation for trans-national Internet trade. In a study released Thursday, it raised the possibility of copyright legislation to work alongside national laws and also talks of "alternative forms of remuneration" for authors such as a tax on Internet access.

It estimates the cultural and creative market has an annual turnover of more than EUR650 billion and employs about 3% of the EU's working population.

Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for the information society and media, said it would be a "priority" to put in place a legal framework to boost digital trade within the internal frontiers while "guaranteeing" the protection of authors rights and offering a "just remuneration" for creators.

Источник: Total Telecom

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