Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Downloading Unauthorized Content Is Legal In France?

from the sort-of dept

Slashdot is claiming that using P2P programs is legal in France by pointing to a French court ruling, tossing out a lawsuit against someone who downloaded a bunch of movies. The original article is in French, so the details may not be entirely accurate. However, it sounds like the ruling was based on thinking very similar to what's been said in Canada concerning downloading. That is, the actual downloading of songs is not illegal -- especially since people pay a sort of "downloading tax" on any blank storage media they buy. The illegal part is uploading or sharing (which makes you an unauthorized distributor). Thus, the ruling isn't all that surprising. Even in the US, while the press seems to miss this point, all of the lawsuits are about people sharing music -- not just downloading it. Still, this doesn't mean that file sharing is "legal" in France -- but that you have a good argument going into a lawsuit if you didn't share any of the stuff you downloaded. Update: In the comments at Slashdot, someone provides a few more details. It appears he did share some of the downloaded content (which is probably how he got caught), but the court said it wasn't nearly enough to label him a "pirate." They also noted that it appeared all the downloads were mostly for personal use. What's amusing about this, then, is that the entertainment industry's insistence on calling downloading "piracy" is what bit them here. The court basically determined that pirates don't download for personal use only.

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