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Friday, April 03, 2009
France Approves Internet Ban For Online File Sharers

French lawmakers on Thursday adopted a tough new anti-piracy bill that would punish illegal downloaders by cutting off their Internet access.

The new "internet law" would allow a state agency to cut off internet access for a year to those caught downloading pirated works more than twice, the Associated Press reported today.

The Internet access ban replaces current provisions that call for up to three years in prison and 300,000 euros in fines.

Supporters of the bill hope the threat of being cut off will wean web users away from pirated films and music, and towards fledgling legal video and music download sites.

More than 10,000 French artists, filmmakers, musicians and culture industry figures signed a petition in support of the bill. In London, the IFPI federation representing the worldwide recording industry also came out in favor of the bill. IFPI believes that ISP cooperation, via systematic disconnection of infringers and the use of filtering technologies, is the most effective way copyright theft can be controlled.

However, privacy rights organizations do not agree and argue that the law disregards privacy rights. A French group representing 180 high-tech and online businesses had urged the government to shelve the bill and allow the industry to come up with a better answer to piracy.

The European politicians had also voted last July in favor of amendments to telecoms law, which campaigners say could be used to curb privacy online and file sharing. The so-called "Telecom Packet" amendments to the law target online piracy.

According to the law, if a web user is caught downloading or uploading copyrighted material on bit torrent trackers or any other file-sharing networks, ISP would be forced to ban him from accessing the Internet. This would happen after three warnings send to users notifying them that they are suspected of putting copyrighted works on file-sharing networks.

However, the EU ministers did not approve the specific law as a harmonized European telecoms regulation. The position taken by the government representatives? means that the "universal service directive" now requires Internet providers to cooperate more closely with the entertainment industry. Ultimately it is now left up to the EU Member States independently to embody Internet prohibitions in their laws in cases of copyright infringement.

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