French Music Biz, ISPs Sign Online-Distribution Charter

French music-industry organizations and representatives from the online sector on July 28 signed a document that sets a framework for the legal distribution of music in France.

LONDON -- Other creative sectors are expected to follow the music industry in signing a charter with Internet service providers to regulate online distribution.

French music-industry organizations and representatives from the online sector on July 28 signed a document that sets a framework for the legal distribution of music in France.

The charter's key purpose is to "fight against the illegal exchanges of recordings and protected works" and "promote the development of legitimate online services."

The charter was recommended by French minister of economy, finance and industry Nicolas Sarkozy and his colleagues from culture and communication, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Patrick Devedjian.

The government took the initiative for the charter in order to combine the development of broadband Internet with respect for intellectual-property rights.

Donnedieu de Vabres says the move "is a starting point, that of a new partnership between authors, producers, online distributors and Internet access providers."

The French film industry says the music charter is an incentive for it to accelerate discussions with ISPs, with the aim of reaching a similar agreement by the end of the year.

Under the music charter, labels agree to increase the amount of legal repertoire available for online distribution from 300,000 to 600,000 titles by the end of the year. Also, both music and online companies agree to promote legal services to consumers, and ISPs vow to respect IP rights.

Label's bodies SNEP and UPFI; collecting societies Sacem, SCPP and SPPF; publishers' association CSDEM; and retail trade group SDSD are among the music industry organizations that signed the charter.

The ISPs were represented by their trade body, AFA; other mobile operators who signed on include Wanadoo, SFR-Cegetel, Noos and Free.

The music industry had asked for ISPs to implement filtering measures that would allow parents to prevent their children to access specific sites. However, Donnedieu de Vabres said the issue was technically complex and decided to appoint two experts to evaluate the viability of such a system.

He said the government will be constantly monitoring the state of the partnership between the creative industries and ISPs.

For ISPs, the key mandates of the charter include informing their users of the illegal nature of sharing unauthorized works; halting the promotion of services that encourage or present in an attractive way the exchange of unauthorized files; implementing legislation regarding use of illegal files on their networks; and offering legitimate online music services through their portals.

For rights owners, the charter mandates initiating civil and criminal action against online pirates by the end of 2004; rapidly increasing the number of legal files on offer and making them available to all legitimate platforms without discrimination; and offering online platforms non-discriminatory and transparent licensing through rights society Sacem.

For both parties, the charter calls for an assurance that the number of music files available to consumers constantly grows, with a target of 600,000 files by year's end; clear and competitive pricing of such files; and online and offline promotion of legitimate services.


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