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EMI Attacks France
January 22, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Last month, the French National Assembly marginally passed a "global license" proposal that would allow the sharing of music and movie files for personal use. Under the proposed legislation, French Internet users would see their monthly service fee increase by €5. The legislation was initially designed to substantiate Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres desire to increase penalties of those convicted of piracy. However the pro-P2P verbiage negated this drive.

Judging from the reaction of the file-sharing community, the proposal has been greeted favorably. The consensus largely agrees that spending an additional 5 Euros per month seems like a small price to pay if it means absolutely avoiding the IFPI's lawsuit campaign. Considering the amount of Internet users in France, the addition of 5 Euros per netizen would likely generate a substantial revenue stream to offset any claimed losses to Internet piracy.

The circumstances surrounding the proposed legislation left many clamoring its doom. During the vote, only 58 out of the lower house’s 577 total members were in attendance. For certain, the legislation would be swept under the rug, never to be heard from again.

Yet it now appears there is growing support for the proposal within the French government. While it’s likely this legislation will not become law in its current iteration, it has greatly raised awareness of the issues surrounding this debate. In fact, the debate has reached to the top of the French government, as on January 9, 2006, President Jacque Chirac was quoted by Reuters as saying the following:

"It's with creative people that we will win in the battle over content. We should guarantee their rights and their fair payment, by finding a balance between the fight against piracy and user freedom."

Indeed fascinating words spoken by President Chirac. With President Chirac giving credence to the debate, the entertainment industry has been quick to stomp out growing support for this amendment.

Calling the move a setback, EMI chairman Eric Nicoli gave a speech yesterday at MidemNet, in Cannes France. MidemNet is a yearly music industry trade fair designed to discuss many topics, including policy, strategies and of course, politics. During Mr. Nicoli’s speech, he warned of dire consequences if France’s pro-P2P legislation becomes law.

“It would be remiss of me to come to France and not to offer an opinion on that decision. France has always respected copyright and supported the creative industries, so it seems an aberration that the country has taken a first step towards a ‘global licence’.

“If France continues down this road, it could jeopardize the promising growth we’re now seeing in the legitimate online market. Many French artists, authors, indies, majors, film producers and entertainment retailers have expressed their strong opposition to the proposed ‘global licence’ and to other detrimental proposals.”

Yet judging by public support and the desire of President Chirac to find “a balance”, continuing down “this road” may be exactly what the French government may do. To what extent is the real question, as powerful lobby groups, such as the French entertainment juggernaut Vivendi Universal, will certainly participate in what will become a national debate.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: DRM
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: International

You can read Mr. Eric Nicoli's speech here.

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