If, like me, you believe a good mp3 blog helps -- not hurts -- the recording industry, this article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal will fill you with dread. In "All Eyes on France as Officials Enforce New Antipiracy Law", we learn the French government has hired a private company to watch file-sharing Web sites to determine who is illegally downloading music. The users' IP addresses are given to Hadopi, a government arm, who in turn contacts Internet providers to get the users' e-mail addresses. Warnings are sent out in the following manner:
1) An email is sent to the computer owner telling them he is legally responsible regardless of who actually downloaded the song from the device.
2) If it happens again within six months of the first warning, a registered letter is sent warning the computer owner to stop downloading.
3) A third warning results in legal proceedings and a one-year Internet blackout.
Internet providers were reluctant to help until the government passed another law fining the companies every time they didn't comply. Hadopi expects about 125,000 IP addresses a day from the country's various providers. It's thought 70 percent of those warned once will stop. Others will find a way around Hadopi, but is it worth all of the trouble?
If this country adopts a Hadopi-type bureau -- and I'm sure the powers that be are watching the French model closely -- I will close shop. There are file-sharing users out there that upload (and download) entire in-print albums, and I agree that's an abuse. If a blogger posts a song to promote an album, complete with links on how to purchase the album, however, that's where the line should be drawn. In the instance a record company or artist feels even a one-song post is one song too much, most bloggers will immediately remove the link to download. This seems fair to me. Sales are being made through this kind of promotion.
Godspeed, French mp3 bloggers. This American is thinking of you.
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