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Following thirteen months of parliamentary deliberations, on July 3, 1985, France enacted a law which brings major reforms and additions to its copyright act of March 11, 1957. The new law becomes effective on January 1, 1986. Among the French modernizations and innovations discussed in this Article are the new law's provisions regarding: computer software protection and ownership; royalties for home taping of audio and audiovisual works; and the recognition and regulation of "neighboring rights." These provisions extend statutory protection for the contributions of performing artists, and also accord reproduction and performance rights to the producers of phono- and videograms. Other reforms include: a 20-year extension of the duration of copyright in musical compositions; the inclusion of graphic and typographic designs within the subject matter of copyright; and the elimination of certain restrictions on the copyrightability of photographs. This commentary attempts not only to set forth and explicate these reforms, but also to analyze the extent to which they may benefit U.S. authors and copyright holders. A concluding section emphasizes the need for U.S. legislative action in the home taping area, and recommends adoption of certain features of the French home taping royalty scheme.

Unlike the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, France's law of July 3, 1985 does not replace the previous copyright act. Rather, the new French law seeks to clarify and expand the protection of authors' rights, while remaining within the framework of the 1957 act. It will therefore be necessary to refer at points throughout this article to that law.


Intellectual Property Law | International Law | Law