First French P2P 'pirate' fined €10,200

Schoolteacher's public shaming

A French teacher was yesterday fined €10,200 ($13,300) in France's first major illegal file-sharing prosecution.

Alain Oddoz, 28, was arrested on 18 August 2004 following an investigation into music-sharing information site France Barter by French law enforcement agencies. The teacher, one of 302 regular users of the site, was accused of sharing 30GB of music files, Le Monde reports.

The teacher will have to pay €3,000 now, with the rest deferred to a later date. The fine could have been much worse. Music industry representatives had asked the Pontoise court to impose a €28,366 fine.

"I do not have any idea how to pay - it is a sum which I do not have," Oddoz told the Court.

However, he must take out a series of newspaper adverts to publicise the crime and punishment. His computer equipment was also confiscated.

Today, a group of French musicians, academics and others will call for such legal action to cease.

"Eight million French people have already downloaded music on Internet. Unable to prevent it, the majors of musical industry try to intimidate these 'pirates' with a multitude of lawsuits. Undoubtedly, the record industry is faring badly. And the digital revolution can't take place if it's founded upon the suffering of artists and producers, whose work must be protected and remunerated. But other solutions exist. New systems of financing are being invented. The music industry should back such endeavours [not engage in unnecessary legal action]," wrote the petitioners in an open letter published today in French newsmagazine Nouvel Observateur.

In recent months European music industry trade bodies have actively pursued file-sharers through the courts, albeit with a lower profile than the Recording Industry Ass. of America's highly publicised anti-P2P lawsuits. In June 2004, Germany's first case ended with a fine of €8,000 imposed on a man for sharing songs without permission on Kazaa.< ®

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