Film Director Comes to the Defense of a Convicted Internet Pirate
By ERIC PFANNER
ARIS — A Frenchman convicted of copyright theft for illegally downloading thousands of songs on the Internet has found an unlikely patron: a famous film director.
Jean-Luc Godard, the 79-year-old director of movies like “Breathless” and “Alphaville,” has come to the support of James Climent, a photographer who faces a fine of 20,000 euros ($26,520) for violating musical copyrights.
Mr. Climent, who lives in Barjac, a picturesque old town of artists and organic farmers in the Gard region of southern France, wants to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The highest French court rejected his last appeal in June, siding with music royalty collection agencies that brought the complaints against Mr. Climent five years ago.
Mr. Climent said Mr. Godard this month donated 1,000 euros to his fund, helping him get him more than halfway toward the 5,000 euros he needs for legal fees and other costs of taking his case to the European Court.
While Mr. Godard’s views on intellectual property are widely shared on the libertarian fringes of the Internet, they might seem surprising coming from a director who, under French law, retains editorial control over his work and derives financial benefit from it.
Yet Mr. Godard, a pioneer of the New Wave of French cinema in the 1960s, whose films skewered the conventions of bourgeois society, clearly still delights in provoking the establishment, even if it could cost him money.
Mr. Godard’s support for Mr. Climent comes as the debate over file-sharing is growing ever more politically charged in France.