Panel to hear report on legal file-sharing

Gallic pols will consider a bill Wednesday that would legalize peer-to-peer file-sharing of music and films in return for a flat royalty fee.

French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres will appear before the Commission on Social and Economic Affairs in a closed hearing to report on the political climate surrounding the issue.

Parliament unexpectedly voted in the amendment, attached to a much-disputed bill on intellectual copyright, in December, causing an uproar among media industryites and politicians.

After the vote — a blow to President Jacques Chirac’s administration, which wants tough laws to protect copyrighted material — the debate was suspended.

The Gallic media industry opposed the amendment and is pushing for the government to find another solution.

“We are concerned and monitoring the situation closely, but it has a long way to go before it becomes law,” said Francine Cunningham of the Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry, according to Reuters.

“The license would replace the fast-growing legitimate online market in France by an average payment, which would by no means remunerate the creation of music and investments made by the recording industry,” the IFPI said.

French politicos are still debating the matter and seem no closer to a consensus than they were on Dec. 21. The parties are divided even among themselves.

One deputy from Chirac’s UMP party recently backed the amendment, likening the administration’s stance on piracy with that of the U.S. on the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and adding that it would only swell the black market.

Donnedieu de Vabres hopes to re-launch the debate in the lower house at the beginning of March, but politicians of all stripes are doubtful that a consensus can be reached that quickly.

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