Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:53 UK

French 'pass' piracy legislation

Computer keyboard and CD
Consumer groups warned the new law could punish the wrong people

The French National Assembly has passed a draft law that would allow illegal downloaders to be thrown off the net.

The law was narrowly passed by 285 votes to 225.

The French hard-line policy on piracy has drawn worldwide attention as nations around the globe grapple with the issue of piracy.

The ruling majority UMP voted in favour but the Socialist Party has already announced that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court once again.

An earlier version of the bill was ruled unconstitutional and a compromise version was hammered out.

The Constitutional Court insisted that a judge rather than a high authority had to rule on the issue of whether to disconnect users.

The document will only be adopted definitely if a commission - made up of seven senators and seven deputies - can agree a joint version in the next few days.

The legislation is backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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

While it is backed by the film and record industries, consumer groups have warned that innocent people may get punished.

The European Parliament is currently considering whether cutting off internet access is a breach of human rights.

In the UK, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has been widely credited with seeking a tougher line on UK piracy laws.

The British government is proposing a tougher stance which could include cutting repeat offenders off from the net.

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