After seven months of debate and controversy, French lawmakers today (June 30) approved the copyright bill.

After seven months of debate and controversy, French lawmakers today (June 30) approved the copyright bill.

The final text of the copyright and neighboring rights in the information society bill (DADVSI) was passed after votes by both houses of Parliament. The text had been finalized last week by a dedicated commission.

The bill is France's attempt to implement the 2001 European Union Copyright Directive.

It will soon become law assuming the failure of a last-ditch constitutional challenge filed last week by the opposition Socialist party.

Industry sources expect the new law to be applicable by the end of the summer.

Immediately after Friday's vote, both French label trade bodies SNEP and UPFI expressed their satisfaction, though remained cautious on how the text will be applied.

Through the text, French lawmakers have introduced the obligation of interoperability. However, the text is a softer version than the one previously adopted by the Parliament, which was described by Apple Computer as supporting "state-sponsored piracy."

An independent authority has now been set up to ensure effective interoperability between files and devices. Any software publisher, technical system manufacturer or platform service in France can refer to the authority to request all necessary information to ensure interoperability from DRM firms.

The authority will have the power to fine companies which fail to comply by up to 5% of their revenue.

However, observers maintain a loophole exists that might allow DRM firms to bypass interoperability in case of contractual agreements with individual rights holders.

The text also validates a set of fines to curb illegal file-sharing. Distributors of a software "patently" geared towards the distribution of copyrighted works without authorization are liable to a €300,000 ($383,000) penalty. Individual file-sharers may also face fines.

In a conversation with Billboard.biz, CEO of French author society SACEM Bernard Miyet said, "the fate of online sales depends on the way this law will be applied. What happens in case of repeat offence? What will be the means of the police forces [to track illegal acts]? And how will consumers react? Will they give a chance to online stores?"

Jean-François Dutertre, delegate general of artists collecting society Adami, was more pessimistic. "This law will prove inefficient," he says. "You can't control the swap of files between end-users."

Dutertre predicts that the debate on a "global license," supported by Adami, will return "maybe during [the] 2007 presidential elections campaign.

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