Posted by: bklunk | November 15, 2006

Wait a Minute, Big Fella

FrankieG passes this along. 

And some people wonder why the French are despised

In a move that reeks of a disdain for others that can only be described as uniquely French, France has effectively legalized IP piracy.  The proposed licensing fee, similar (supposedly) to the BBC licensing fee which is attached to the price of a television in England, this fee would essentially turn the payer into a new-age privateer.  While the fee would be dispersed amongst copyright holders, unless it is astronomically high, it will not come close to covering the potential losses incurred by unrestricted IP piracy.  As Alain Dorval, a French actor (the voice of Rambo, in fact, to the French) points out, France invented artist property rights in the 18th century, and this move neatly wipes them away.  This sort of obstinate disrespect for, well, everyone, is something that people readily criticize the United States for, but I suppose the French do it with a bit more class and subtlety–that, or people are too busy looking at us Yanks to pay the Continent any mind.

Back to the issue, however: the idea of legalization of piracy in France has the potential to spread to other countries.  If this happens, then the entertainment really truly will begin to see a big hurt on their profit margins.  Piracy is rampant as it is, but if it were ever to be mostly unrestricted, that could be problematic.  Since ISPs would no longer legally need to monitor their users for IP piracy, they would stop, and they would be all too happy to offer everyone higher bandwidth to fit their movie-pipelining needs.  It also undermines the idea that entertainment is worth paying for, and that artists deserve recognition and compensation for their works, which, if it ever spreads through other high-profile governments, will undermine the global status of the arts, and we may face a sad age ahead when even the well-fed artist finds little work.

It is worth noting that the entire parliament was not present for the vote, and the measure may fail later in the legislative process, but it certainly did pass muster in Parliament, and that alone is a scary thought.

I hope FrankieG checks this a bit carefully.  It seems to point to amendments to legislation that were proposed almost a year ago.  Were the amendments passed?  But it is still good that FrankieG brings this issue to our attention.  Given the nature of the Internet, any state that legalized PTP sharing would open a big intellectual property hole.  This seems a very clear example of an area where international cooperation is crucial.

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  1. The amendments did indeed pass Parliament, but as I noted, they may face some difficulty as they move along to the other part of the legislative process (admittedly, I have no idea what that part is, although I assume it must get past…the executive branch?).

  2. Nice job, Frankie. This is a great issue to bring to the table because I think a lot of people like to sweep it under the rug and act like piracy is not a big deal. It especially bothers me when people try to argue for piracy by saying, “it’s not like they aren’t making millions of dollars anyway.” The principle of the matter is that piracy is wrong and it should not be condoned or allotted by a government. If people work hard to make a product they should be paid for it. Frankie makes a great point when he said it undermines the idea that entertainment is worth paying for. We need to think about how big of a can of worms this would open if it moves through, and other countries follow in suit.

  3. Its truly surprising that the French, lovers of anything artistic, would agree to such an amendment. What people fail to realize is that when they pirate movies and music that the main artists are not the ones their hurting, its the music writers, set designers, camera men, production crew. These hard working people are not millionaires, and they are the ones being ripped off. French culture always been on the front line of major artistic movements, I’m so sad they are pursing this amendment.

  4. Wow, great find. Im wondering if the US has said anything in response to this. Clearly this is in the US interest, as they have a huge stake in the entertainment industry. Also, Ive got to think that other actors in France have to be angry at the proposed ammendment. This will be interesting to keep an eye on.

  5. I agree with what others have said in regards to this issue not only hurting those actors making millions, but also those who make an average income working behind the scenes. The action of essentially legalizing pirating on the internet will be hurting a lot of these behind-the-scenes workers, as a ripple affect in money losses will occur in the industry from top (millionaire movie stars), to the bottom. Hopefully the French will take this into account as they move ever closer to making this amendment a reality.

  6. Oh the France, what will they think of next. I hope that this doesn’t actually pass because this would be a huge hole that movie and music industry would some how have to find a way around. If it were to pass, is there something in place that would prevent them from downloading it and selling it to others on like eBay? The movie and music industry has already seen a decline in their profit margins as more people download it then buy the DVD or CD and that’s even the legalized way. The margins are much slimmer if you download it then if you buy a material object. If this eventually does pass, one can only hope that it doesn’t spread to other nations, because as if that happens it will have a detrimental effect. And like Joe states above, the first to feel its impact will not be the multi-millionaire actors, but rather the sound and lighting and all the behind the scene workers. I seriously hope that this bit of legislation failed.

  7. I second Paul, what will the French think of next. This legislation shows a complete disrespect for the rule of law. It goes along the line of French decision making that says if it feels good do it. This really points out the need for some kind of international law regulating actors like France who would threaten the economic rights of people everywhere, and not just actors and millions as has been pointed out earlier. The bill also reminds me of Frances declaration in the lead of to Operation Iraqi Freedom that they will vote against any resolution brought by the United States, without even seeing it first! How are we going to deal with such an unreasonable country on anything, much less Iraq or piracy.

  8. This bill not only takes away credit well-deserved by their entertainers and crews, but the culture as well. France is a country proud and rich in culture – how could this happen? French entertainers are well-respected and acknowledged by their fans and this totally discredits them.

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