France Considers Extending The Reach of Private Copying

Bloomberg is reporting that late last night the French Parliament voted to extend the reach of private copying by expressly providing that "authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately'' and not for commercial use.  While it appears somewhat unlikely that the provision will survive (it passed late in the night, can be re-considered, and requires French Senate approval), the mere fact that a majority of voting parliamentarians voted to permit personal copying of both music and video on peer-to-peer systems is significant. 

Canada has an equivalent private copying system, though it solely applies to sound recordings and not video works.  To see France consider extending its own system, however, provides some much needed context for the limited nature of Canada's private copying system.  The Canadian system is clearly in need of reform, if only because the rights it grants are far too limited (ie. no copying onto a digital audio device such as an iPod)  given the tens of millions collected each year.  Reform could go two ways – either extend private copying as France appears to be considering so that it truly covers private uses or do away with private copying altogether by replacing it with a much-needed fair use provision in Canada.

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