Monday, February 21, 2005

P2P Downloads of Music and Films in France - "are you feeling lucky" ?

The famous quote from one of the Dirty Harry films "Are you feeling lucky ?", might well apply to all of those French residents that are into P2P file sharing and downloading of music and films, if a recent decision by a court in France is anything to go by.

The accused infringer was a primary school teacher, sued by the European equivalent of the MPIAA, for having used P2P networks to download and distribute copyrighted material without the authorization of the rights holders.

The defendant pleaded exception to the law under the right to the "copie privée", claiming that he had downloaded material for his own personal use and for that of his close family and friends, and that no exchange of funds had ever intervened in any of his actions.

Although the court didn't follow the arguments brought forward by the defendant, it did come out with a particularly remarkable sentence, in which the Court stated that the accused had been "unlucky", considering the ever increasing amount of participants active in P2P file sharing in France. Other courts have been less inclined to proffer such clement remarks, limiting themselves to the strict requirements of the law, more or less equivalent to "Thou shalt not steal".

The defendant was sentenced to a very heavy fine, in fact, the largest fine ever pronounced thus far in a P2P file sharing case. It is understood that the defendant will file an appeal, but it remains to be seen whether his defense lawyers will be following the line opened up by the Court as to the "lucklessness" of his acts. Such lines of argument are often used in criminal cases for first offenders, as a justification for someone who has erred and then seen the light and repents. If so, then the Appeal Court won't have to deal with the prickly issue of whether French citizens really do have a right to the "copie privée", something which the majors of the film and music industry are increasingly eager to stamp out.

In the meantime, if you live in France, and are like many thousands of others involved in dowloading music and films from P2P networks, then maybe you should ask youself the question :

"Are you feeling lucky, punk ?"

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