France to have second vote on Internet piracy law

PARIS Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:46pm EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - France's parliament will vote again on a government-backed bill to crack down on Internet piracy, a proposal that was rejected the first time around in an embarrassing defeat for the ruling UMP party.

The bill, which proposes disconnecting Internet users if they download music or films illegally, was voted down earlier in April after the UMP failed to turn out in force to approve it.

Opposition politicians and consumer activists have said the law would be inefficient and could hit the wrong people, and have urged the government not to re-submit the bill.

But President Nicolas Sarkozy announced after the defeat that he was determined to see it passed, saying the law would protect creative diversity.

The music industry, hurt by falling revenues as fans prefer to download songs for free, has lobbied the French and other governments strenuously to introduce the law.

The bill would give users caught illegally downloading files two warnings and, after a third violation, they would be disconnected from the Internet for up to a year.

Critics argue that hackers could steal other users' identities to download music, and the victims would then have to prove their innocence. Some artists also worry that such a law would pit them against their fans.

Parliament will vote on the bill again on April 29.

UMP party discipline has been repeatedly tested this year, from a controversy over France's return to the military command structure of NATO, to a bill to ease restrictions on Sunday business hours -- which was postponed indefinitely.

(Reporting by Emile Picy, writing by Sophie Hardach, editing by Tim Pearce)

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