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Intellectual Property in France

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Intellectual Property in France

ou may think that France has recently gone insane, but depending on which news sites you read, it could be for different reasons. Two stories are making waves right now, and neither one is particularly clear. First, we have claims that the French are turning draconian by trying to slap DRM on anything and everything. At the same time we have reports that France has gone libertine, and now approves of all manner of piracy. How can both be true?

Libertй, Egalitй, Peetupйe?

The French Assemblйe Nationale has, in fact, voted to make "P2P usage" legal in the country (for all intents and purposes, P2P usage has become shorthand for "unrestricted sharing of music and video content over public networks"). The approved amendment to the controversial DADVSI states that "authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately." Additionally, Internet Service Providers would be required to pay a portion of their revenues to France's rights-representing royalties body, Sacem.

But despite reports, this does not mean that P2P is legal in France. The vote would still need to pass in the French Senate, and even before then, it will probably need a second reading in the lower house, because the first one was a sham. To put it bluntly, this is a publicity stunt. The bill, which passed last night by a vote of 30 to 28, saw the remaining 519 deputies absent from the vote. They weren't there.

Still, the members of the Assemblйe Nationale who voted for this will look populist and fair-minded, but the amendments in question will never survive the next round.

"The deputies used this vote to show their independence from the government, but they don't know what they are doing,'' Nicolas Seydoux, chief executive of French cinema company Gaumont SA, said in an interview on France Inter radio. "We are not trying to ban anything, just to make sure the work of others isn't stolen.''

So,

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