French file sharing - legal soon?

Things are still pretty quiet on the IT security front, with most companies shut down until next Tuesday, but I noticed one of the last news items out of France before Christmas concerned Internet file sharing.

It seems the French Parliament passed a law late last week which effectively legalises the sharing of music and movies on the Internet, providing the Internet user pays a modest licence fee to the government.

Aha, I thought - this will be like, the Russkie music download Web site which points a few shekels at the copyright owner and allows Russians to download music for peanuts.

Nope. It seems the licence fee will be payable to the French government, rather like a TV licence operates in this country. Except that the plan is for licence fee to be quite modest.

The proposed law change forms part of a major bill on intellectual property rights which essentially states: "authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately."

Don't hold your breath just yet, as the law must still pass through the French Senate and, already, the Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has requested that the Senate holds a debate on the matter.

Whatever happens in the New Year, it's a sure-fire bet that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will be making a lot of noise about this proposed law when the guys in suites return to their desks next week...