French lawmakers voted early this morning to open up restrictions on peer-to-peer downloads, paving the way for legal and (almost) free online sharing of music and movies the nation over. It's all dependent on one ammendment to an intellectual copyright bill that' s moving through the French legal system, which states that studios and recording companies can't legally stop users from sharing their works online, as long as the users aren't commericailly exploiting the materials they download, and procure media only for private use. The ammendment would have French internet users pay a still-unspecified download tax to their Internet provider, who would then pass the money on to an umbrella organization set up to disseminate artist's royalites. So essentially, under this model, internet access would become more expensive for everyone, but media could be shared for free and without the idea of "piracy" (or prosecution) ever entering into it. The ammendment passed this morning by a vote of 30-28, but most of the French legislature was not present. It can be overturned if the majority decides to vote the bill down to the senate, or reopen the debate.