Online film downloading isto get more user-friendly with the signing of a new charter. In Cannes,EU and US Internet service providers and telecom operators such as TimeWarner, Vivendi and Telecom Italia endorsed the European Film OnlineCharter, which aims to encourage the wider circulation of European filmsboth within and outside the EU as well as increasing broadband Internetuse across Europe.

The charter underlines thatinternet service providers and film companies should cooperate to raisecopyright awareness and develop copyright-protection technology and makethe clearance of film rights easier.

They must also ensure theyprovide a wide range of "attractive films," consumer-friendlyonline services and cooperate to fight piracy.

"This is a good firststep to protect online film distribution in Europe," said John Woodward,chief executive officer of the UK Film Council.

"We have a united frontin favour of copyright protection and against piracy which involves thetelecommunications companies as much as the film-makers anddistributors."

But, he said, "Perhapsmore importantly, Commissioner Reding agreed that it was time to take thesecond step for European film and to begin to define a more proactiveEuropean audiovisual policy which will support the European film industrywhose future will rely on revenues from online film distribution."

The full charter isavailable online.