Paris court fines Warner Music $6200 for DRM violation

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Paris court fines Warner Music $6200 for DRM violation
UPDATE 31 January 2006 12:35 pm ET

In an earlier edition of this story, I relied on an inaccurate depiction of currency exchange rates. Some careful readers have kindly pointed out my error, and the article as it stands now is corrected, thanks to their help. -SMF3

Paris (France) – The French online audiophile publication audionautes.net is reporting that, in a 10 January decision recently made public, the Paris District Court ruled against Warner Music. The ruling orders the company to stop French sales of copies of Phil Collins’ CD, “Testify,” that contain digital rights management processes that are so restrictive as to block users from making copies of songs “on any media of their choice,” translating from the French.

This decision is not definitive but it was supported by the famous French Consumer Association UFC-Que Choisir who will not hesitate to defend it in front of the Court of Appeal, if necessary. And especially since its result is not surprising. It upholds the previous 2005 April 15th decision from the Versailles Court of Appeals about a CD from the French singer Alain Souchon, and the 2005 April 22nd decision from the Paris Court of Appeals about a DVD from the French producer Alain Sarde.

This decision further upholds various decisions recently issued by French Courts absolving Internet Users of charges after having downloaded music from the Internet…

The report goes on to list a handful of recent decisions where courts found in favor of citizens who were sued for having downloaded music.

According to the report, Warner was ordered to pay 59.5 in penalties and 5,000 in punitive damages, which totals about $6,163 by current exchange rates (at $1.21 versus the euro). Further, the ruling appears to be limited to the “Testify” CD only.

In December 2005, audionautes.net reported that the French Parliament passed a law authorizing the downloading of any content from the Internet for personal purposes. Its report from 22 December translates the French Code of Intellectual Property as follows:

Authors cannot forbid the reproductions of Works that are made on any format from an online communication service when they are intended to be used privately and when they do not imply commercial means directly or indirectly.

Many in the Internet community have already dubbed this the “P2P law.” French news sources are reporting that, on 8 February, Parliament will debate whether to extend the provisions of this law.