THE French parliament yesterday approved legislation to stop the widespread evasion of copyright fees by people who download films, music and other material from the internet. Millions do it and copyright owners have long despaired of persuading governments and internet operators to find a way of controlling the traffic. In France President Sarkozy has pushed hard for passage of the proposals that were approved yesterday; they envisage the creation of a monitoring authority which would withdraw internet rights for one year from anyone found downloading illegally on more than two occasions.

Merely to set out the skeleton of the proposal immediately shows what a huge bureaucratic organisation would be required - just in France let alone the whole of Europe. The European Union is also working on this problem and its solution - if it finds one - is likely to be less prescriptive than M. Sarkozy's, and therefore probably less effective. The European Parliament, which would have to approve any EU scheme is generally unenthusiastic about the idea but if something of the kind were to come into existence France would presumably have to withdraw its scheme. LIke any one else, musicians, writers, actors and film producers are entitled to be paid properly for their work. At the moment, despite various file-sharing schemes which pay lip-sevice to the principle of payment they do not get the full royalties to which they are entitled.


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