French minister of culture and communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has completed a new draft of the country's controversial copyright bill. The new text, according to a statement issued Saturday

French minister of culture and communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres has completed a new draft of the country's controversial copyright bill. The new text, according to a statement issued Saturday (Jan. 14) by the Ministry of Culture, has been "enriched and clarified in order to offer the anticipated balance between freedom and regulation."

Final arbitration on the proposed text was made by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, following directives outlined by French President Jacques Chirac at the beginning of the year.

The ministry added that the new bill will reaffirm the notion that the Internet "is a fantastic space of freedom and a unique platform to access cultural goods." It should also "favor the development of a legal and diversified offer of music and cinema online."

The original text had been significantly amended by the Parliament during its discussion before Christmas. In particular, an amendment introduced the notion of global blanket license, opening the door to legal peer-to-peer exchanges. The ministry confirmed that this amendment will not appear in the new draft, although it could still be voted by the parliament.

In the new draft, the ministry has introduced a series of amendments. One of them allows for a certain number of copies to be made for private use. In parallel, the law will limit the possibilities of circumvention of technical means of protection, whilst ensuring the interoperability between various technologies.

The ministry also added that the repressive side of the law has been toned down to mark a difference between occasional P2P users and those who offer massive repertoire of protected works.

Donnedieu de Vabres said he proposed the Prime Minister to appoint a member of Parliament who will be charged to evaluate the impact of technical means to protect works.

The new text will be presented before the Parliament during the new session starting Jan. 17. It is anticipated that the bill will be discussed at the beginning of February.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy, president of ruling conservative party UMP, today (Jan. 16) invited representatives from the music industry to discuss these issues. Several UMP lawmakers voted in favor of the controversial blanket license, against the position of the party's leadership.

After the meeting, labels' groups SNEP and UPFI expressed satisfaction that both the government and UMP are opposed to the blanket license. They also pledged to favor the development of "rich, diversified, easy-to-use and at attractive prices legal online music offers."

Francois Hollande, the leader of the opposition socialist party, also expressed his opposition to the blanket license system, although several members of parliament from the party voted in its favor.

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