France is likely to block a proposal to introduce a general "downloading fee" that will allow consumers to legally source whatever music or films they want from the Internet, an AFP report said.
The report said the download fee initiative was being pushed by French MPs and that parliamentarians were to debate whether to keep the fee idea or to replace it with a government bill that would toughen copyright laws for digital media, including the Internet, CDs and DVDs.
The bill essentially followed the lead of other countries that explicitly made unpaid downloading of commercial works illegal, the report said.
French MPs in December voted to legalize peer-to-peer file-sharing through a scheme in which Internet users could opt to pay a small fee each month for as many downloads as they wanted, the report said.
The report said the money from the fee would be used to pay artists' royalties, while letting off the hook most of the estimated eight to 12 million French residents who currently downloaded music and films illegally.
But that decision, made during a late-night session debating the original version of the digital copyright bill, stunned the government and drew an angry campaign of protests, the report said.
The report said the government withdrew the original bill, effectively stopping the MPs' vote from making its way through the legislative process.
The government then slightly amended it to lighten fines for illegal downloading and to allow people to make private copies of DVDs and CDs, the report further said.