France moves to block Internet downloading

The French government's attempts to stop Internet users from downloading music and movies went up a notch when Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy blasted the widespread practice as "theft," an AFP report said.

The report said debate on the bill began in December 2005 but was abruptly halted when a rebellious group of ruling party and opposition MPs voted for amendments that would legalize downloads, to the shock of the government, which withdrew the text.

After reducing penalties against individual offenders and scrapping an article containing the contentious amendments, the government resubmitted the bill late Tuesday, the report said.

MPs from the left-wing opposition, joined again by several ruling party MPs, tried to revive the amendments and attach them to other parts of the bill, but they were thwarted by members loyal to the government.

One dissenting member of the UMP majority, Christine Boutin, said the government's tactics would simply "push Internet users to piracy."