The French government has announced a new campaign meant toboost awareness of the "misdeeds of counterfeiting and digital piracy."

It forms part of a stronger line on copyright theft whichwill culminate in legal changes to protect film later this year.

French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and FrancoisLoos, deputy minister of industry, launching the new campaign concentrated mostattention on illegal music downloads. But they said it was essential that filmpiracy was tackled by law and by awareness campaigns.

The film industry has made some strides forward in thatapproach.

The new law will take a three-step approach to prosecutingpiracy: illegal online downloaders will be sent a warning e-mail followed by aregistered letter and, ultimately, fines. The fines will go to the state inmuch the same way as a parking ticket.

Alongsidethe legal changes, the authors', directors' and producers' association ARP is alsoworking on an anti-piracy charter to be presented to the industry soon.

The issuehas moved up the agenda after a study released by France's National Centre for Cinema (CNC)in conjunction with the Association for the Fight AgainstAudio-visual Piracy (ALPA), which found that 37.9% of films released in Frenchtheatres between August 2004 and July 2005 had been pirated on the internet.

Some 26.4%of those titles were French, while 72.7% were American.

The 66French films which fell victim also accounted for 56%of the box office of local films over the same period.

Just threeFrench films were pirated ahead of their theatrical release, versus 53% ofAmerican films. French films were generally available, however, 45 days aftertheir theatrical debut.

The studyfound there is far less piracy committed the old-fashioned way: with acamcorder in the cinema. Instead, copying occurs either along the distributionchain, by merchants or through errant DVDs.

"TheCNC study is not there to reassure us," Antoine Virenque,head of the French National Distributors Federation (FNDF), told Screen.

Due to a printing error, this storywas not included in this week's Screen International. Apologies.You can find the latest box office stories and charts at