The vote by members of France's lower house dealt a setback to Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who introduced the draft legislation. . . . Under the original proposals, those caught pirating copy-protected material would have faced $360,000 in fines and up to three years in jail. An 11th-hour government offer to give illegal downloaders two warnings prior to prosecution was not enough to stem the rebellion. Instead, the amendments voted would legalize file-sharing by anyone paying a monthly royalties duty estimated at $8.50. . . .
Days before the parliamentary debate, consumer activists delivered a 110,000-signature petition to the culture ministry criticizing the draft bill. The right of consumers to make copies of their music and videos for private use is enshrined in European law, and media companies have faced legal action in France for selling copy-protected CDs and DVDs. . . .
The final lower-house vote is not expected until after Jan. 17, when deputies return from their winter break. The bill requires only one further vote in the Senate to become law, under the emergency procedure invoked by the government to comply with a 2001 European Union directive on digital piracy.
I can imagine a better bill, but the sentiment is right. At the very least, people should have no less right to share their CDs and DVDs than they have to share their books.