France passes revised download law

Illegal downloaders face web ban, fines, possible jail

PARIS -- The French government passed a revised version of anti-piracy law the "Hadopi" on Tuesday, after months of debates and alterations, Gallic authorities said.

Gaul's National Assembly voted in favor of the law -- 285 "oui" votes against 225 "non" -- calling for the creation of a High Authority for the Broadcast of Content and the Protection of Internet Rights (Hadopi) to regulate online piracy in the territory.

The revised version of the bill, nicknamed "Hadopi 2", has been the subject of intense debates among the country's media industry, politicians and public web users. Hadopi 2 replaces a harsher original version of the measure that was rejected after being named unconstitutional. However, the new version is still considered to be one of the toughest measures ever drafted in the worldwide battle against internet piracy, and should serve as a precedent for surrounding territories.

Illegal downloaders of film or music in France will now face fines of up to €300,000 ($440, 837) and two years in jail. Authorities are also now authorized to cut off Internet access to said offenders. The Cultural Ministry estimates that more than 1,000 French net users per day could be cut off from their Internet access under the new law. Parents could also see their family Internet connection cut off in response to illegal downloading on the part of their children.

"I'm very happy about this vote. It validates a text that respects a balance between everyone's interests," UMP party leader Jean-Francois Cope told press in Paris on Tuesday.

Recently-appointed Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterand also expressed his satisfaction with the vote, telling press: "Artists will remember that we finally had the courage to break with the laissez-faire approach and protect their rights from people who want to turn the net into their own libertarian utopia."

The Hadopi 2 still needs to be confirmed by a final vote in French parliament by senators and deputies, considered to be a simple formality, before being officially passed.
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