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Thursday, December 29, 2005

France Considers Legalizing File Sharing

Whether you consider it caving in to piracy or facing modern reality, a move to legalize peer-to-peer file sharing in France could have global ramifications if it becomes law. During a nearly empty midnight session last week, the French National Assembly passed an amendment permitting file sharing, hoping to instead compensate copyright holders through a tax on personal computers.

Predictably, computer users praise the measure, while actors and artists generally oppose it. "This law throws us back to before the French Revolution," said Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the Rambo series of films. "France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this Parliament wants to vote them away." However, "artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers.

The measure affects netizens and copyright creators worldwide because French file sharing systems would presumably be available to downloaders everywhere, and non-French content creators wouldn't benefit from the PC tax. As a result, ISPs might be forced into blocking all traffic to and from French servers, regardless of whether they are engaged in file sharing.

This measure, however, is still early in the legislative process. The current government opposes it, and many observers believe that it will ultimately be defeated.

Source: International Herald Tribune