French Court Sentences File-Sharer

In the first high-profile case of its kind in France, a civil court Feb. 2 sentenced a 28-year-old file-sharer to pay a suspended fine of €3,000 ($3,940), plus €10,200 ($13,300) in damages

LONDON -- In the first high-profile case of its kind in France, a civil court Feb. 2 sentenced a 28-year-old file-sharer to pay a suspended fine of €3,000 ($3,940), plus €10,200 ($13,300) in damages.

The magistrates' tribunal of Pontoise in the suburbs of Paris found schoolteacher Alain Oddoz guilty of downloading 10,000 unauthorized tracks and making them available on the Internet to other file-sharers, as well as burning some of the tracks to CDs.

The court said the suspended fine would become applicable if the defendant commits another similar offense.

Plaintiffs in the case were French collecting societies Société Civile des Producteurs Phonographiques (SCPP) and Société Civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), authors' rights society Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM) and mechanical rights society Société pour l'administration du Droit de Reproduction Mécanique (SDRM).

SCPP had sought €8,366 ($10,907) in damages and was awarded €3,000. Sacem and SDRM were each awarded €3,000 on claims of €5,000 ($6,520). SPPF was awarded €1,200 ($1,565) on a claim of €3,000.

The case began when police who specialize in new technologies noticed in February 2004 that an Internet user was offering a vast amount of music files under the alias Altzpunk. The offender had 30G worth of MP3 files -- the equivalent of 10,000 tracks -- on his hard drive available for downloading. He was using the P2P software Direct Connect Plus Plus.

The police identified Altzpunk as Oddoz through his IP address. They obtained a warrant to search his home in August 2004.

Oddoz's lawyer, Murielle Cahen, said during the trial in December that her client was not selling music but downloading it for personal use.

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