The European Parliament has narrowly voted against a rule which would cut the Internet connections of people who illegally download copyright infringing music and other digital files.

The parliament gathered yesterday to vote on the "Report on the Cultural Industries," French member of European parliament Guy Bono's study on the economic and social importance of the cultural sector in the EU.

The parliament voted 314-297 in favor of an amendment that saw off a requirement that would have protected copyright music files on the Internet; 297 voted against the amendment.

The IFPI was widely supportive of the text. "Many of the recommendations in this report stress the need to protect intellectual property as a driver of growth in the creative sector," comments Frances Moore, IFPI executive VP. "The report also calls on the European Commission and member states to provide the necessary resources to ensure that intellectual property is respected and protected."

Bono, a French socialist, keeps a keen eye on the music industry. In October 2007, he used the forum of the European Parliament to question the European Commission's second approval of the Sony BMG merger.

Moore and the IFPI, however, are aggrieved by what she described as the "one badly drafted, rushed through amendment" which was adopted "in contradiction to the rest of the text."

The MEPs said yesterday that "a reform of intellectual property rights is vital for promoting creativity and encouraging the development of cultural works," but "criminalizing consumers who are not seeking to make a profit is not the right solution to combat digital piracy."

Moore added, "If the aim of the report is to protect creative content, including in the online environment, we should be looking at all options available in the fight against copyright theft. Instead, this amendment suggested discarding certain options before there is even a proper debate."

The vote is nonbinding, so member states can still move ahead with their respective plans. The governments of France and the U.K. have separately threatened the introduction of legislation to force ISPs into action on halting illegal file-sharing.

The IFPI's Moore says the trade body is looking forward to a "full discussion" in the European Parliament in the coming months on how best to address copyright theft online.