EU Approves Subsidy To Curb Illegal Downloads

France hopes new program will encourage legal downloads in youth.

The European Commission has approved a French proposal to subsidize legal downloads of music amongst the country's youth in the hopes of curbing rampant illegal downloading. 

In March, France proposed the creation of a Carte musique --  or a music card -- for internet users between the ages of 12 and 25 to buy music online from subscription-based websites. Under the program, a €50 card (about $70) will cost the consumer only €25 (about $35) and the French government would provide the difference.

Sites that accept the card will contribute to the difference by offering reduced prices, extending service subscriptions, or contributing to advertising efforts. They will also be capped at earnings of €5 million (about $7 million) to make sure niche operators benefit as well.

The program would last two years with each consumer allowed to purchase one card a year. The French government expects one million cards will be sold each year.

The hope of the program is to instill, early on in a person's life, the habit of buying music legally.

"We welcome initiatives from Member States to increase the availability of music online at a lower price for consumers and through legal distribution channels," Joaquin Almunia, Commission vice-president in charge of competition policy, said.

"Music online is certainly a driver for the success of the Internet and for economic development. However, we shall ensure that such initiatives are implemented in compliance with the EU state aid rules."