Friday, March 10, 2006

P2P flip flopping in France

The fun and games over the French government's attempts to introduce a law to crack down on p2p file sharing is continuing.

First the government tried to introduce the provisions quietly before Christmas but were caught off gaurd by a late night vote by opponents of the proposals, who effectively introduced an amendment to legalise file sharing. Then the government recently dropped that amendment unilaterally going back to their original plan. Now it looks as though they have had to reintroduce the offending amendment after the opposition threatened to mount a constitutional challenge accusing the government of breaking the rules of parliament.

Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said "This isn't a U-turn. It's a sign of our determination to see this through."

"The culture minister's compromise draft lightens the penalties for ordinary Internet users who pirate music or movies, removing the jail terms originally proposed and slashing maximum fines to $150 (about R937) from $300 000 (about R1,8-million).

In another gesture to consumer advocates, online stores would have to sell music and movies in formats that can be played on all kinds of devices - a requirement that could open the way for legal challenges against sites like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes, which uses an exclusive format that can only be played on the company's own iPod devices.

But the proposals would also strengthen legal protection for anti-copy technologies known as DRMs, shielding them from challenge under French laws that grant consumers the right to make copies of music and film for private use."

Sounds like a right mess - how can the law say Apple's drm is outlawed but drm is protected? I detect journalistic confusion here. The music industry are urging the government to introduce the law without the p2p legalising amendments. Why on earth would they want to let mere constitutional constraints get in the way?

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