The state of France's new digital copyright bill was thrown into chaos when members of parliament yesterday (Dec. 21) voted an amendment to the controversial text which introduces a system of "optiona

The state of France's new digital copyright bill was thrown into chaos when members of parliament yesterday (Dec. 21) voted an amendment to the controversial text which introduces a system of "optional blanket license" for content on the Internet.

Member of parliament Alain Suguenot, from the ruling coalition UMP, introduced the amendment late in the evening during the discussion on the new copyright bill.

The amendment was voted in the lower house of the French Parliament by 30 members to 28.

Suguenot said his addition to the bill will "legalize the exchanges of protected files by individuals on online services for non-commercial purposes." The text also introduces the remuneration of rights holders.

It would introduce an optional fee paid for users using peer-to-peer
file-sharing services, through their ISP, which in turn would give them unlimited access to content in a legal way.

Industry organizations representing labels and publishers are opposed to a blanket license. It was not endorsed by culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who was in charge of defending the bill before the Parliament.

Artists and musician groups Adami and Spedidam, together with consumer groups, had backed the amendment.

At press time, label's bodies SNEP and UPFI were planning to organize a press conference in Paris today, to express their opposition to the amendment.

The bill is due to be debated today in the Parliament. It will then be discussed before the Senate before being adopted.

Collecting society SCPP, which represents numerous labels including the four majors, says the amendment is "in total disregard of EU regulations and all the international treaties signed by France."

SCPP urged all members of parliament and the government to act "so that the situation created by this vote does not stand."

Indie labels' body UPFI said in a statement that it was "totally opposed" to the system.

Industry sources say they still expect the government to use legislative procedures to quash the amendment.