France's Senate gave final approval today (May 13) to the nation's new e-commerce bill. The move will provide a legislative framework for the digital economy and incorporate into French law the Europe

France's Senate gave final approval today (May 13) to the nation's new e-commerce bill. The move will provide a legislative framework for the digital economy and incorporate into French law the European Union's June 2000 E-commerce Directive.

Known in France as LEN (Law on Digital Economy), the text was already approved 10 days ago by the House of Deputies. The law needs to be reviewed and get the green light from France's constitutional court before being enacted.

It will provide new legislative tools to combat cyber-criminality and better protect e-commerce users. The legislation will also heighten the liability of Internet service providers (ISPs) for hosting illegal material, specifically in cases of pedophilia and incitement of crimes against humanity or racial hatred.

The law does not go as far as requiring ISPs to constantly monitor the sites they host to identify illegal material. ISPs will, however, be obliged to immediately remove any illicit content upon any complaint by a third party.

As French minister of industry Patrick Devedjian puts it, "The responsibility of hosts is strictly limited to cases where they have not acted quickly to stop access of illicit content of which they have been made aware." The French music industry was waiting for the legislation to become law before launching lawsuits against individual file-traders.

Music trade body SNEP says the text does not go as far as the industry had hoped. SNEP legal director Frédéric Goldsmith, says the law "will bring about a clarification of ISPs' responsibilities. It will be easier to obtain their cooperation with the law behind us."

Stéphane Marcovitch, GM of ISPs body the AFA, denies such claims. "We don't need the LEN to settle the differences between ISPs and majors labels," he says. "We've been more than willing to talk with the record industry for years, but they've openly refused to do so unless Internet content is filtered."