French culture minister Christine Albanel has received backing from the independent music community for her government's anti-piracy measures, which would see the authorities regulating internet service providers with a three-strike scheme under which infringers could ultimately see their internet access cut.

The three-strike scheme was discussed at the first European Independence Arena, which gathered politicians and European Commission officials as well as professionals from the music, cinema and books sectors in Paris to debate the position of independent companies. It has produced a ten-point declaration for the independent sector.

The two-day conference sessions - which were co-organized by French ministry of culture and by European record labels body Impala - ended with a written declaration stating the expectations of the independent cultural sector towards Europe. It took place in the context of the French Presidency of the European Union.

The declaration included a statement about the importance of regulation of the digital environment and support for the "Internet and creation" law, which will be discussed from Oct. 29 at the French senate.

"Of course, there is no secret plan to impose the French anti-piracy plan to the rest of Europe," said Albanel, defending the proposals. "I simply wish that our experience will prove an inspiration for other European states whose cultural businesses are as threatened as the French ones."

She added that the law "won't be the law of the majors, it will be the law of all creators and of all the cultural industries."

Among the other points listed in the final declaration were that European independents expect a "specific status to independent cultural small and medium enterprises (SMEs), endorsed at the European level. SMEs should be granted specific support and benefit from positive discrimination measures."

They also call for agreements to ensure independent productions receive "sufficient and sustainable exposure" in the media, shops, cinemas and in the new media; for new competition and concentration law rules or practices; for the creation of financial tools, as well as fiscal and social measures at national and European level; reduced VAT [sales tax] rates on cultural products in both physical and online markets; and for €1.5 billion ($1.89 billion) to be invested each year from the European budget into the cultural industries, with priority given to SMEs and micro-enterprises.

"We have windows of opportunities, politically and psychologically speaking, with the idea of regulation rising," said Albanel during the closing panel, referring to the measures Europe is currently taking to face the world financial crisis. She added that the French government would create a liaison office representing the three cultural sectors in Brussels.

The European Independence Arena was held Oct. 23 to 24.

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