The District Court of Paris released free of charges an avid user of Kazaa, in posession of 1875 mp3 files containing copyrighted materials, in a lawsuit filed by a French recording industry.
According to the court, the defendant was making use of these files for private, personal use, which consequently makes his use legal. France allows its citizens to make fair use of copyrighted materials as long as that usage is not collective nor commercial.
This decision taken on December 8, but made public on Tuesday by the Asssociation of Audionautes, a non-profit organization that fights the abusive threats of the music industry. The court's judgment is the first one to authorize both the downloading and uploading of P2P content for Internet users.
France has so far been mainly leaning towards decriminalization of P2P use as shown by previous court judgments.
On late December 2005, the National Assembly of France voted to legalize peer-to-peer file-sharing of music on the Internet.
The amendment recommended that Internet users pay fixed fee to compensate the music producers. Reports of the measure indicated that the fee would be between 5 euros ($5.92) to 7 euros ($8.28) in the form of a monthly subscription charge for unlimited downloading.
Last Wednesday, French periodical Le Nouvel Observateur placed a manifesto online titled "Liberez la musique" (Free the music) denouncing the exaggerated repression against P2P users in France and calling for an open debate on the subject.
The call has attracted more than 16,000 signatures, including those of celebrities and politicians who declare being hardened criminals under French law as they have all downloaded music at some point in time.
The debate has yet to come to and end as some court judgments show opposition to file-sharing. In its February 2nd judgment,a district court in France (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Pontoise) accused a P2P user of non-authorized reproduction according to the intellectual property laws of the country.
The individual who downloaded over 10,000 illegal files was condemned by the criminal court to paying a 3,000 Euro fine for infrigment to the copyright laws of the country.
In the civil lawsuit, the P2P participant was condemned to paying 10,200 Euros in interest and damages and 2,200 Euros in punitive damages to five big French industries all in the music production and intellectual property fields.