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Socialists plan €2 web surcharge

Hadopi internet law could be repealed and replaced by €2 surcharge on all internet users in new tactic to counter piracy

WEB-users could face an extra €1-€2 charge on their internet connections under plans by Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry to counter illegal downloads.

Ms Aubry said internet users were unfairly targeted by the Hadopi anti-piracy law and she would get rid of it and, instead, target the suppliers of the illegal download files.

The surcharge – levied on every internet subscriber – would be used to pay artists’ copyright fees and to boost creativity.

Speaking ahead of next month’s socialist primary elections for the 2012 presidential campaign, Ms Aubry said such a contribution individuelle à la création would allow users to carry on with their lives without fear their internet connection would be cut, which is one of the penalties of the Hadopi law.

The surcharge is aimed mainly at the music industry as her supporters said cinema and books were not significantly affected by illegal downloads. However, music companies said that even a €2 surcharge – which would bring in €1 billion a year – would not be enough to compensate for the losses from pirate downloads.

Her move has been backed by her leading rival in the primaries, François Hollande, who said Hadopi should be repealed and new legislation set in place after talks with web-users and the music industry. He suggested they could look at “the rental of works” and added that the “global licence was a concept that had grown old”.

Ms Aubry also called for the digital watchdog Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés to change direction and become more concerned with the liberty of expression. She was angry workers could lose their jobs after criticising their companies on social networks: “Twitter and Facebook are open to people who know you and follow you. It’s not a medium that’s wide open to everyone.”

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