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in Filmmaking
on Dec 22, 2005

ABC News has a surprising story up about a debate in the French government that led to an unexpected victory for file-sharers. When the country’s cultural minister introduced legislation that would have dealt jail time and a fine to those convicted of file sharing copywritten material over the internet, lawmakers instead endorsed an amendment that would make file-sharing legal as long as monthly royalty payments of $8.50 were paid for the privilege.

From the piece:

“‘To legalize the downloading of our music, almost free of charge, is to kill our work,’ venerable rocker Johnny Hallyday said in a statement.

The actors’ and musicians’ branch of France’s largest trade union, the CFDT, said the plan ‘would mean the death of our country’s music and audiovisual industries.’

The proposed royalties duty amounts to a ‘Sovietization’ of the arts, said Bernard Miyet, president of the French music composers’ and publishers’ organization SACEM.

‘You’re talking about an administered price, set by a commission without regard to the music and film economy,’ Miyet said.”

In France, media companies have actually been sued by consumers for attempting to copyprotect their CDs and DVDs. The amendment legalizing file sharing will come up for a final vote in January.

While the media companies have been less than progressive in their approach to dealing with filesharing networks and digital delivery, I think that the proposed French royalty plan, which is similar to the license fees restaurants and stores pay to the publishing societies in order to play recorded music for their customers, is a terrible one. In any of these schemes, the biggest artists walk away with the biggest revenues and newer artists suffer.

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