Members of France's ruling conservative party have blocked a move to legalize Internet downloading of movie and music files, after several days of sharp debate in parliament, an AFP report said.
The report said the vote by members of the UMP party signaled a victory for the government as it pushed through a bill that would outlaw the downloading of commercial files as well the breaking of copyright protection on DVDs or CDs.
MPs from the Socialist, Communist, Green and UDF parties walked out in protest ahead of the vote, allowing it to be adopted nearly unanimously, the report said.
Deep divisions, however, remained in France over how best to balance consumer rights against copyright in the Internet age, the report said.
The UMP vote scrapped an article in the bill, which would have upheld a text adopted by parliament last December to legalize downloading in return for a de facto flat tax of 8-12 euros a month that Internet users would have to pay, the report further said.
The report said this tax be used to pay artists' royalties.
The opposition and even some UMP parliamentarians, backed by consumer groups, had argued that such a tax was the best way to remunerate copyright holders, especially as an estimated eight to 10 million French people currently downloaded copyrighted material without paying a cent, the report said.