Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


I was down at the sumptuous French National Assembly (A building that looks like a Greek temple from the outside and a livingroom overdosed with red velvet on the inside) yesterday because a group of latenight legislators this week amended a bill to include a global tax for people wishing to share files over the Internet.

Once a user (an "internaut" in French) has paid the fee, that internaut is free to share music or movies on the basis that they are for personal use only.

Result: Hey presto! Kazaa would suddenly be legal in France. What is considered piracy in other parts of the world would be available here in France.

Also: Artists would recieve payouts from the tax money raised (Systems for copyright taxation are not unusual in Europe. Germany, for example, imposes a 12 euro copyright levy on the sale of each personal computer purchased.)

Needless to say, the music and movie industry people were not terribly pleased.

Those AGAINST include the French Rambo!

"This law throws us back to before the French Revolution," said Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the Rambo series of films. "France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this Parliament wants to vote them away."

"Since the pay TV channel Canal Plus finances a huge portion of the cinema production, an attack on pay TV undermines the structure for the creation of cinema," Seydoux said. "To be in cinema you must be optimistic and I am optimistic these amendments will fail."
Not only are the amendments bad, but their implication is dangerous, said Michel Gomez, an official with the Association of Directors and Producers. "The message sent by this law is that creative works can be bought for free," he said. "This may be very seductive to Internet users, but it will bring down the structure of entire creative industries."

The arguments FOR:

Patrick Bloche, a pipe-smoking Socialist deputy representing Paris, who was a co-author of the amendments: "We are trying to bring the law up to date with reality." "It is wrong to describe the eight million French people who have downloaded music from the Internet as delinquents."

"We are only leading in a direction that is inevitable for the law everywhere," said Christian Paul, a Socialist deputy who was also a co-author of the amendments. "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."
"Artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers. "If the government and industry attack downloaders aggressively, we will just go underground with encryption and all chance of revenue will be lost."
Ridouan added that the amendments would finally legalize behavior that has become commonplace among young Internet users. "We need protection. It is not nice to feel like you are acting illegally," he said. "They cannot use the law to stop people sharing music just because the music industry missed out on the digital revolution."

If this blog-ization of the article is not clear, check out the full IHT version here.

Which arguments have the most merit and can creative industries survive in the face of peer-to-peer?


Should have noted: The amendments look unlikely to make it into law since the government - which holds a majority - is opposed to them becoming law. We won't know, however, until January 17 when they are discussed again.

So. From what I've read it looks like France might make it easier for file sharers, while at the same time F/OSS might be outlawed.

This is totally backwards. We should be conscious about this, and keep in mind that we much much rather have it the other way -- with F/OSS flowering and file sharing pushed into the darknets.

With everyone paying for ISP around the world and paying so much to just to surf the web, some of that revenue can help artists across the globe, only that some ppl in this business is less likely to want to benefit others more or less. For I know corporation like NTT have their New Media Center, only now is thinking of stopping. I think effort or other attempt have been made in some other countries to create that cutting edge institution for technology on technology, but anything less technological or any other type of media are left out of the agenda. We will only have to find better ways to squeeze the juice from the web without resorting to write manifesto. Are there some verity in making us internaut(i like this word) keep paying for their zero sum game. I know the problem is a lot more complex, basically who is going to make that deal.

The bottom drops out of the steel market in Pennsylvania - and the steel workers all need to find new jobs, or reinvent the ones they have. They bubble bursts on the dot-com industry and most of the web designers are taking as low as 10% of what they used to make.

P2P comes along and we need legislation to protect creative artists and the recording industries? I realize there are copyright infringements that need to be addressed, but (and I speak more authoritatively about American copyright law) most copyright law has been inflated by lobbyist influenced legislation to far outreach its original aims - i.e. on par with invention patents.

I'm not saying that musicians need to do there work for free - but at the same time revenue has dropped so has cost of production. So you can only sell your cd's content for 10% as MP3's and you need to package it differently (i.e. through paid p2p as opposed to cd's etc), sorry! I think you could still make a decent living as a musician - and whats more - more musicians can break into the recording industry due to the ease or production, whereas previously you needed to be endorsed by a label.

To me P2P can enable the music industry if they just start using it instead of fighting it. Sure - there will be many less millionaire musicians or pop-icons who aren't really musicians and rely on image. Perhaps quality in music will become a factor, who knows?

That said, governmants really ought to stay out of it if possible. Obviously, the dozens of law suits make that difficult - but passing laws to protect recording industries, or regulate a free (hopefully fair) market isn't necesary either. The biggest involvement on the legislative part should be to revise copyright law to cover a product(content) for a reasonable time. I think artists will find if they charge a reasonable price or market through a priced P2P network they will do OK.

It's a Pyhrus-like victory for P2P advocates but it's a short-term victory because France has to cope with european rule and this law is not euro-compliant. It's just a question of time for another vote to come.

Actually, I work with the Association of Audionautes and I am all time long on #joiito

If you want more information, do not hesitate to ask.

The French government withdrew on Monday the article referring to legal paid downloading from a bill that would allow P2P file-sharing.

The revised bill is submitted this week. French parliamentarians cannot debate whether they want to keep the fee idea, or replace it with a government bill that would make copyright laws more strict for digital media.

The French National Assembly stunned the world in December when it voted to legalize P2P file-sharing through a model in which Internet users could opt to pay a small fee each month for unlimited downloads. The money from the fee would go to artists'royalties, The government withdrew the original bill, thus stopping the vote making its way through the legislative process, and amended it slightly to lighten fines for illegal downloading and to allow people to make private copies of DVDs and CDs.

2 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: French Attempt to Legalize File Sharing.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Last night, the French parliament passed an amendment affirming the legality of free movie and music filesharing: If the amendment survives, France would be the first country to legalize so called peer-to-peer downloading, said Jean-Baptiste Soufron, l... Read More

Fascinating Joi Ito reports the French National Assembly has legalised non-commercial file sharing, in exchange for an annual fee which would go to copyright holders. Sort of like the old TV licence fee. It may yet be over-turned. Not sure... Read More