The French government has postponed the National Assembly’s vote on a new copyright law until the new year, abandoning its earlier insistence that the bill was so urgent that it must pass before year-end.
On Wednesday night, deputies from the majority and opposition parties voted two amendments to the “Authors’ rights and related rights in an information society” bill, authorizing the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing software to download copies of copyrighted music. The amendments go against the wishes of the government.
The government had previously declared the bill “urgent,” allowing it to skip the third and fourth readings in the National Assembly and Senate required by the usual procedure. Rather than rush the amended bill through, though, the government opted Thursday night to postpone the rest of the debate until the next parliamentary session, which begins on Jan. 17.
The bill is intended to transpose into national legislation a European Union directive on copyright. Such directives, proposed by the European Commission and voted on by the directly elected European Parliament, become binding on the national governments of the E.U. member states, which must implement them in national law by a deadline set in the directive. The French government had said fast-track treatment of the copyright bill was necessary because otherwise it would have to pay massive fines to the European Commission for missing the Dec. 22, 2002, deadline for implementation of the copyright directive.
In his blog, Deputy Christian Vanneste described the three days of debate leading up to the postponement as a “real battle.” He expressed surprise at depth of feeling in public reaction against the bill. Vanneste wrote a report for the National Assembly in May, explaining and justifying the government’s position.