The French Parliament adopted today (March 21) the highly controversial bill on copyright. The bill was passed with a show of 286 votes for, and 193 against.

The French Parliament adopted today (March 21) the highly controversial bill on copyright. The bill was passed with a show of 286 votes for, and 193 against.

Among the key points, the new bill introduces the right to interoperability, allowing end-users to bypass technical protections on legally-purchased songs to listen to the digitalized music on any device.

It would effectively force Apple Computer to open up its until-now closed digital music store to be compatible with rival music players.

The bill also introduces a range of fines for infringers, from €38 ($46) for illegally downloading files to €30,000 ($36,500) for distributing technical means to bypass copyright protection (except for interoperability purposes).

Distributors of a software "patently" geared towards the distribution of copyrighted works without authorization are liable to a €300,000 ($365,000) penalty.

Today's vote closes a passionate debate that started last December. Two subsequent amendments which opened the door to the legalization of file-sharing -- by way of a global license -- were temporarily adopted.

These amendments, which were advocated by several consumer and artist rights organizations and by members of parliament from both the left and right wing, were eventually excluded from the bill.

The government has pledged to implement into French law the European Copyright Directive, which was passed in 2001. The bill now has to be approved by the Senate; sources say discussion on it will start at the beginning of May.