France could become the first country to pass a law broadly permitting free downloads of copyright content from the Internet for private use.

In a move that could thwart the entertainment industry's attempts to seek legal sanctions for copyright violations, French Parliament members voted 30 to 28 late Wednesday night to accept an amendment proposing such a move.

Attached to a broader copyright law proposal, the amendment--roughly translated--reads: "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."

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The right direction, copyright should only protect against commercial exploitation, and it should not act to prevent the public as a whole or as individuals using it in a non-commercial way.