France lower house approves new version of Internet piracy bill

[JURIST] The French National Assembly [official website, in French] voted 285-225 Tuesday to approve a new version [text, in French] of a controversial Internet piracy law [text, in French] after portions of it were rejected [decision, in French; JURIST report] in June by the Constitutional Council [official website, in French]. The new version leaves discretion to suspend a user's Internet services to a judge after the Constitutional Council ruled that the power to restrict the fundamental right of accessing the Internet should not be entrusted to an administrative authority, as the original version [JURIST report] had proposed. The determination to suspend access for up to one year would be made on an infringer's third violation, after previously receiving two warnings. Consumers could be sanctioned for negligence for any illegal downloading unauthorized users conduct through their Internet accounts. Opponents of the bill argued that it still does not sufficiently afford an alleged infringer a meaningful way to challenge accusations. The French Senate [official website, in French] approved [JURIST report] a slightly different version of the bill in July, and a parliamentary commission will now reconcile the two versions before a final vote is conducted next week. The bill continues to generate controversy and Socialist members of parliament who oppose it have not ruled out another challenge to it in the Constitutional Council.

Other European governments are also taking steps to combat Internet piracy. Last month, the British Department for Business Innovation and Skills [official website] proposed stricter sanctions [JURIST report] against illegal file-sharing that would include restricting and suspending user Internet access. The proposed regulations would be managed by an administrative agency, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) [official website], which would report to Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson [BBC profile] recommending action against specific users. The measures could be implemented before initial year 2012 projections. While the proposal was welcomed by media industries, it provoked strong rejection among consumers and service providers. The government's consultation period on the subject is now due to close on September 29 after it was extended when changes to the proposal were announced.



 

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