French lawmakers target Internet piracy

An MP3 music file gets downloaded through a peer-to-peer website.
The French National Assembly gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a measure that seeks to crack down on Internet piracy.

The measure would impose fines of up to 300,000 euros — the equivalent of about $440,000 — as well as possible prison terms for the illegal download of films or music. The Assembly adopted the bill by a vote of 285-225, replacing a tougher version of the bill that was rejected as being unconstitutional. A committee made up of members of the National Assembly and Senate will examine the proposal, and both chambers are scheduled to vote on a final version of the bill September 22. The issue of Internet piracy has played out in nations such as the United Kingdom, with some musicians, authors, filmmakers and others who create content complaining that Internet users essentially steal their work. The digital age has made it easier to create content, but it’s also made it easier to copy it — and some people who do that do so without paying a royalty to authors or musicians, said David Lammy, Britain’s minister for higher education and intellectual property in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. “The harsh reality is that not everyone recognizes that they have a moral and legal obligation to return some of the money they generate to those who copy content,” he said in a recent speech. Some have advocated strict government controls, backed up by sanctions, to limit online piracy, he said, while others have advocated different approaches.