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Personal use of P2P networks is legal, says French court

A Paris district court has ruled that a man who both uploaded and downloaded music from the internet was not guilty of copyright infringement, because his actions amounted to 'private copying' and were not for commercial gain.

French copyright law allows people to copy a work for private purposes; UK copyright law does not.

French music industry association, the Société Civile des Producteurs Phonographiques (SCPP), sued the man, known as Anthony G, after investigations revealed that he had 1,875 MP3 (music) and DIVX (video) files on his computer hard drive.

His case was taken up by a pro-file-sharing campaign group, the Association of Audionautes (ADA), which persuaded the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris that both uploading and downloading are covered by the ‘private copying’ defence. Previous rulings had concerned only the downloading of copyrighted files.

According to Jean-Baptiste Soufron, Legal Counsel of the ADA, the decision “is an important stepping stone in our fight to legalise P2P."

The SCPP has appealed the decision, which was published just before the French Parliament debates whether to impose a surcharge of around €5 a month on the use of P2P networks. Under the proposal, any monies raised would be used to compensate rights holders. French law applies a similar surcharge on sales of blank media, such as cassettes and CDs.

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