Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 12:37 UK

French net piracy bill signed off

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There are concerns the wrong people might be punished

A controversial French bill which will disconnect people caught downloading content illegally three times has been given final approval.

The legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, was surprisingly voted down by the Assembly last month.

The bill sets a tough global precedent in cracking down on internet piracy, and is being closely watched by other governments as a potential deterrent.

The global music industry has been calling for tougher anti-piracy laws.

The Creation and Internet bill was passed by a vote of 296 to 233 by the lower house on Tuesday and has now been given final approval by the Senate.

Opposition Socialist and Communist senators did not take part in the vote on the bill, which was passed by 189 votes to 14.

Industry backing

The new legislation operates under a three-stage system. A new state agency would first send illegal file-sharers a warning e-mail, then a letter, and finally cut off their connection for a year if they were caught a third time.

It has been backed by both the film and record industries.

But some consumer groups have warned that the wrong people might be punished, should hackers hijack their computers' identity, and that the scheme amounted to state surveillance.

The socialist parliamentarian Patrick Bloche said the bill was "dangerous, useless, inefficient, and very risky for us citizens".

John Kennedy, chairman of the IFPI, which represents the global music industry, has described the bill as "an effective and proportionate way of tackling online copyright infringement and migrating users to the wide variety of legal music services in France".



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