The French government is pushing the music industry and Internet service providers to adopt a charter that will regulate the relationship between the two parties in matters of online piracy.

PARIS -- The French government is pushing the music industry and Internet service providers to adopt a charter that will regulate the relationship between the two parties in matters of online piracy.

French minister of economy, finance and industry Nicolas Sarkozy made the call July 15 at an inaugural gathering in Paris that brought together the government and the creative industries, telecom operators, ISPs and representatives of consumer groups.

The meeting was called by Sarkozy, who was surrounded by his colleagues Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Patrick Devedjian, ministers of culture and communication and of industry, respectively.

Sarkozy has been at the forefront of the French government's work in the fight against piracy.

Sarkozy said the anti-piracy actions of the government and the creative industries should center on three points: education of consumers on intellectual-property issues, enhanced legal action when the law is infringed, and the development and promotion of legal alternatives to access online music.

One request from the music industry, expressed by trade body SNEP, is that ISPs accept the placement of a "filter" on peer-to-peer services that favor sharing of unauthorized music files. This way, parents would be able to restrict which services their kids can access.

SNEP president Gilles Bressand cited a study by computer systems specialists Cap Gemini that concluded that it is technically possible to filter access to P2P services at a low cost.

SNEP proposes that ISPs offer the filter as an optional free service, starting in 2005.

"It is possible to prevent access to sites like KaZaA or eDonkey," says SNEP legal counsel Frédéric Goldsmith. "By preventing access to some services, parents could then avoid being dragged into potentially hazardous legal situations if their kids were to be sued for illegal file sharing."

Another meeting between the industry and ISPs, under the aegis of the government, is planned before the end of July. Sarkozy has asked the parties to come quickly to an agreement on the charter.

Sarkozy also renewed the commitment of the French government to obtain from Brussels a reduction on the value-added tax rate on recorded music sold in Europe.

"We had the feeling after the meeting that there is a real political will from the government to act on the issue of piracy," says Goldsmith. "Sarkozy expressed publicly his support of legal action against copyright infringers, and that is positive."

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