Law will target online copyright theft

Bloodied but unbowed, and far from beaten, Nicolas Sarkozy’s government is resurrecting its Internet antipiracy bill — only days after it was rejected at the final hurdle by France’s National Assembly.

The legislation required France’s Internet service providers to contact online pirates by email and suspend repeat offenders’ Internet connections. The bill envisaged a government agency tracking down suspected offenders and informing the ISPs.

Most experts think thr the bill will eventually reach the statute books. Many doubt its effectiveness, however. In a parliamentary farce last Thursday, the bill was rejected by France’s lower house when it met to approve its final wording.

Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party failed to raise enough parliamentarians during France’s Easter recess. It was rejected 21-15 thanks to opposition Socialist votes.

The bill will now be resubmitted to parliament, according to Bernard Accoyer, president of France’s lower house, the National Assembly. Accoyer will meet with party leaders Wednesday to thrash out a timetable for its reconsideration in the National Assembly and Senate.

Sarkozy’s UMP party has a majority in the National Assembly.

“The bill’s passage is just a matter of the government being committed enough to get it passed,” said Francois Godard at Enders Analysis. “But the new law won’t be effective. Its enforcement provisions are weak,” he added.

“There’s no precedent for the threat of legal action working against pirates. RIAA, the Recording Industry Assn. of America, has been trying for years without success,” said Dan Cryan at Screen Digest.

Under the legislation, copyright offenders would pay for their Internet connection even when denied service.

“At least ISPs aren’t being asked to police their customers, throw them off their networks and then absorb the lost subscription revenue. But there’s still the problem of detection,” he added.

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