The French government has suspended its discussion on the country's controversial new digital copyright bill. The decision came within 24 hours of the adoption of an amendment which opened the door to

The French government has suspended its discussion on the country's controversial new digital copyright bill.

The decision came within 24 hours of the adoption of an amendment which opened the door to an "optional blanket license" system for content on the Internet. The amended text effectively legalized file-sharing services for home usage. Music industry groups yesterday reacted vigorously to the move.

Technically, the bill was due to be voted yesterday in the Parliament's lower house. However, only one-thirds of the bill had been discussed over a two-day period.

The amendment had been introduced by member of parliament Alain Suguenot from the ruling coalition UMP. His colleague Thierry Mariani, however, stated yesterday that the UMP group is clearly "against the amendment adopted on blanket license."

While industry executives seem reasonably confident that the blanket license system will not ultimately be adopted, some are concerned that the Parliament has sent a message to the public that content can be freely downloaded.

"This destroyed two years of our educational efforts," Jérome Roger, MD of indie labels' body UPFI, said yesterday in a press conference in Paris.

The parliamentary debate on the bill will resume on Jan. 17 at the earliest. Several members of parliament have called for a longer delay to allow more time to establish to scrutinize the issue.