France’s parliament has rejected a bill backed by the ruling UMP party and President Sarkozy’s government that would have shut down the Internet connections of French users found to be downloading music or movies in violation of copyright. The idea behind the legislation was to deter French Internet users from downloading music and films without paying for them; publishers, production companies, studios, and artists have all complained that illegal file sharing is severely impacting their bottom lines.
However, opposition politicians managed to put the bill down in a final vote in France’s National Assembly when only a relatively small number of UMP members were on-hand for the session. French president Sarkozy has accused the opposition of using parliamentary tricks to put down the bill, and reiterated his commitment to getting the law passed.
The government says it plans to resubmit the bill later this month.
The bill is supported by the music industry, and would establish a “three-strikes” system for Internet users downloading files illegally. Users who are caught downloading copyrighted materials illegally would be given two warnings; on the third incident, the users would have their Internet connection terminated, and wouldn’t be able to set up a new one for up to a year.
Some consumer and privacy advocates argue the law will unfairly punish consumers whose computers or Internet connections are compromised by hackers or malware. Similarly, the law establishes a process by which consumers have to prove their innocence, which potentially creates an environment ripe for abuse.
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