Technology

French to bankroll music-buying

Portable music player, BBC
Image caption The scheme aims to get young people buying more music

French people aged 12-25 are to be encouraged to buy music via a state-subsidised scheme.

The plan attempts to get young people into the habit of buying music rather than stealing it by file-sharing.

The scheme will revolve around pre-paid cards that have a face value of 50 euros (£43) but which will only cost 25 euros when bought.

The French government will pay the other half of the cost when a card is used to buy music on a download site.

The French government estimates that the two-year scheme will cost it about 25 million euros (£22m) if it reaches its target of selling one million cards. Consumers will be limited to one card each per year.

Restrictions will also apply to music download sites that sign up to accept the cards. They will be asked to cut the price of downloads, extend subscription periods and contribute towards the marketing campaign for the cards.

Individual sites will only be allowed to receive a maximum of 5m euros from the scheme.

The European Commission has approved the French plan saying it would not be anti-competitive.

"The scheme will contribute to preserving pluralism and cultural diversity in the online music industry," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in a statement.

France has been among the nations taking the most extreme actions against those suspected of sharing music illegally.

It has enacted the so-called Hadopi law which will result in suspension of net access for those who ignore three warnings about illegally sharing copyrighted material.

Not every French ISP is complying with the law. Free has said it will not be sending out letters that tell people they have been spotted illegally sharing files.

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