Stunner: French ax anti-piracy bill

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French Internet users celebrated and the nation's audiovisual industry looked on shellshocked Thursday as an anti- piracy law expected to pass easily was shot down by Parliament.

The Creation and Internet Law called for the creation of a Hadopi (High Authority for the Broadcast of Content and the Protection of Rights on the Internet) committee to regulate online piracy. The panel would be authorized to trace illegal downloaders through their IP addresses.

The measure was approved by France's Senate and won preliminary votes Tuesday in Parliament, but the latter voted 21-15 against adoption when President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party members — confident the verdict would be in their favor — failed to show up for the final vote.

The news shocked the French industry because the vote was considered a formality. The Hadopi law called for a gradual response whereby offenders would be warned first by e-mail, then by written letter, before authorities cut their Internet access.

UMP representatives will present a modified version to Parliament after the legislators' Easter vacation, which ends April 28. (partialdiff)
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