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French MPs Approve Bill Punishing Internet Piracy

The lower house of the French parliament has approved a bill that will cut Internet connections to those who repeatedly download music and films illegally.

The legislation, passed by a vote of 296 - 233, goes before the French Senate Wednesday, where it is expected to pass.

The legislation gives Internet users two warnings for illegal music or film downloads. After a third infraction, Internet connections would be cut. It the legislation is adopted, France will become the first country to target Internet users in such a way.

The measure enjoys strong support from the international film and music communities, which have complained of declining sales in the face of illegal on-line file sharing. But critics say the bill will intrude on Internet users' civil liberties and will be difficult to enforce.

French lawmakers rejected the same legislation last month, when only a handful of deputies showed up to vote on the measure.

In a related development, the European Parliament passed legislation last week saying the basic rights of Internet users can not be restricted without a court order. It was not clear Tuesday how or if that conflict will be reconciled.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.