French independent labels bodies SPPF and UPFI have welcome a move by Europe's Council of Ministers to reject a European Parliament amendment covering Internet rights, that would have been at odds with France's three-strikes legislation to tackle piracy.

Early last month the French Senate adopted the "Creation and Internet" law, under which copyright infringers could ultimately see their Internet access cut off after two warnings.

France currently has the presidency of the European Union and its proposal on the EU telecoms package did not include amendment 138, which had been put forward by French socialist MEP Guy Bono and adopted by the European Parliament.

The Council Of Ministers is the main decision-making body in the EU and the Nov. 27 meeting of telecoms ministers approved the French presidency's package. Of the 27 countries represented, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Sweden abstained. Ministers from Austria and Denmark voiced their support for amendment 138.

Bono had previously described the European Parliament's Sept. 24 adoption of the amendment as a rejection of France's three-strikes proposal. The amendment stated that "no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities... save when public security is threatened, in which case the ruling may be subsequent."

In response to the Council Of Ministers' vote and the exclusion of the amendment, Bono said he was "appalled" and was critical of France's President Sarkozy, who as a representative of the UMP is a political opponent.

"This amendment clearly posed problems for Nicolas Sarkozy and his friends at the majors," said Bono in a statement.

He added: "This is not the European Parliament nor the [European] Commission, but the [European] Council that favors small arrangements with friends to promote the interests of some at the expense of the public interest. This Council, like Nicolas Sarkozy, gives a poor image of European democracy."

Bono also commented on "the contradictions of the French [EU] presidency in several statements which had announced that the amendment was only a reminder of existing law and at the same time made every effort to secure its removal at the Council."

However, Bono did welcome comments sent to Paris by the European Commission expressing concern about some elements of the "Creation and Internet" law.

Under the French scheme, an independent administrative authority will be entitled to collect infringers' data from their ISPs as requested by artists' collecting societies. The draft law now has to be passed by the French parliament in 2009.

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