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France lower house postpones vote on amended Internet piracy bill

[JURIST] The French National Assembly [official website] voted Tuesday to delay a vote [debate text, in French; materials, in French] on a new version [text, in French] of a controversial Internet piracy law, past its original July 24 date. The French Senate [official website, in French] approved [JURIST report] the law earlier this month after portions of its original version were rejected [decision, in French; JURIST report] in June by France's Constitutional Council [official website]. The original law subjected violators of copyright laws to suspension of Internet access at the discretion of a newly-created administrative authority bestowed with judicial power. The new law would leave discretion to suspend services to a judge, since the Constitutional Council ruled that the power to restrict the fundamental right of accessing the Internet should not be entrusted to an administrative authority. The determination to suspend access would be made on an infringer's third violation, after previously receiving two warnings. An Assembly vote on the measure is now likely [Reuters report] in September.

The bill, introduced by Cultural Minister Christine Albanel and supported by President Nicholas Sarkozy [official websites, in French], is aimed at reducing illegal downloads of protected works by proposing an escalating series of responses for users that are caught. The original version of the law was challenged [JURIST report] by the Socialist party on the grounds that it failed to find a balance between the rights of Internet users and those of copyright holders. In May, the original bill was approved by the National Assembly after initially defeating [JURIST reports] it in April. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry [organization website], representing the worldwide recording industry, has welcomed the legislation [press release], although it has been opposed [press release, in French] by French consumer interest group UFC-Que Choisir [advocacy website, in French] as well as cable and Internet providers [France 24 report].

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