After years of debate and controversy the French Government has finally backtracked on the law which allowed errant subscribers to be disconnected from the Internet. This morning a decree was published which removed the possibility for
file-sharers to have their connections cut for copyright infringement. Instead, those caught by rightsholders will now be subjected to a system of automated fines.
The so-called graduated response to the file-sharing issue has for years been championed by the mainstream music and movie industries. One of the first countries to see value in the idea was France, and under the supportive eye of
ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, Hadopi was born. The taxpayer-funded agency would oversee monitoring of Internet subscribers along with a mechanism for sending them successive warnings, each designed to be more worrying than the last.
Controversially, the final warning would result in Internet disconnection.
However, the idea that these threats would entice subscribers into music and movie stores and away from unauthorized sites in a meaningful way never came to be. In June, a nine-member panel lead by former Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure
produced a 700 page report on policies for advancing entertainment industries in the digital age. Among other things, the panel concluded that the three strikes mechanism had failed to benefit authorized services as promised. It also recommended
that the ultimate sanction of Internet disconnections for infringers should be dumped.
That recommendation has now been carried out by the French Government. Earlier this morning the Ministry of Culture published official decree No. 0157 of July 9, 2013 which removed the additional misdemeanor punishable by suspension of access
to a communication service. The decree goes on to explain that file-sharing offenses may still be punishable by a fine, up to 1500 euros in the case of gross negligence.
A French court case dating back to 2011 has concluded that three of the largest search engines in the world must ensure certain piracy websites are removed entirely from their search results. Media industry trade groups appealed for the complete
removal of 16 domains from Google, Bing and Yahoo. All of the domains were variations of video streaming websites Allostreaming, Fifostreaming and Dpstream.
The search engines in question have been ordered to implement all appropriate measures to prevent access... by any effective means, including by blocking domain names , according to a statement released by the High Court. Additionally,
specific ISPs, including Orange, Free, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, Numericable and Darty Telecom have been told to block the websites locally.
The industry groups also pushed for the ISPs and search engines to pay for all of the censorship and blocking methods that will now need to be implemented, however the court refused, stating: The cost of the measures ordered can not be charged
to the defendants who are required to implement them.
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been given two weeks to meet the court's demands.
City workers in Paris have been instructed to remove political messages from street art this week, including several paintings protesting against local anti-piracy law Hadopi . Among the targets were several creations by Finnish artist
Sampsa, who painted dozens of anti-Hadopi statements across the city.
One of the works, which displayed the text The Blood Sucking Hadopi alongside a kid being chased by a giant mosquito. The city workers decided that the text went too far and removed it in its entirety. The rest of the mutilated painting
remains in place, although its original message has been completely lost.
The irony of the city's actions is that it has censored an artist who has spoken out against a law that is supposed to protect artists. Needless to say, the move was heavily criticized by many members of the public.
TorrentFreak talked to Sampsa who is disappointed that his work was destroyed, but is also glad for the public support he's received.
Creating street art is simply a tool for activism. I am glad people in France are upset about what happened in Butte aux Cailles -- it shows at least someone is paying attention to certain lines that shouldn't be crossed.
Despite the setbacks Sampsa is not going to stop, on the contrary in fact. The French three-strikes law is about to be transformed into system where alleged file-sharers will receive automatic fines , something the artists is heavily protesting
The French three-strikes anti-piracy law Hadopi is heralded by copyright holders as an effective way to curb piracy. However, in France the legislation has often been criticized and in a surprise move against the will of the Government,
the National Assembly has now voted to dismantle it in a few years.
France is seen as the pioneer of so-called three strikes anti-piracy legislation, in which repeated file-sharing offenders face fines of up to 1,500 euros. Since 2010 the French Hadopi agency has handed out millions of warning notices . A
few thousand account holders received more than three notices, of which a few hundred of the worst cases were referred for prosecution.
Copyright holders around the world have cited Hadopi as one of the success stories, hoping to establish similar legislation elsewhere. However, in France the law hasn't been without controversy and in a total surprise the lower house of the
French Parliament has now voted in favor of killing it.
Interestingly, the vote late last week went down under quite unusual circumstances. In a nearly empty chamber, the French National Assembly voted to end the Hadopi institution and law in 2022, Next Inpact reports . What's noteworthy is that only
7 of the 577 Members of Parliament were present at the vote, and the amendment passed with four in favor and three against.
The decision goes against the will of the sitting Government, which failed to have enough members present at the vote. While it's being seen as quite an embarrassment, the amendment still has to pass the senate, which seems unlikely without
The coup, orchestrated by the Green party has caused quite a media stir, not least because French President Francois Hollande called for the end of Hadopi before his election, a position he later retracted.
Maybe another theory as to why the French government may be keen to accidently drop the law. With a new emphasis on terrorism prevention and snooping, it can't really be helpful that large numbers of people adopt encrypted proxies and VPNs
primarily to evade Hadopi copyright enforcement.