French filesharers might have thought they were home dry when the country’s Constitutional Council scrapped tough anti-piracy proposals earlier this month. Now France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said he will continue to push for with the new law regardless.
The controversial HADOPI law aims to give those accused of illegal filesharing a “three strikes and you’re out” ultimatum. Unlike similar schemes elsewhere which tend to work on an ISP-by-ISP basis, the French approach would put those suspected of offending on a blacklist available to all ISPs, completely banning them from having any home internet connection.
Speaking yesterday Sarkozy made clear that France is not a place that will tolerate “lawlessness” online.
“How can there be areas of lawlessness in areas of our society? How can one simultaneously claim that the economy is regulated but the Internet is not so? How can we accept that the rules that apply to society as a whole are not binding on the Internet?…
By defending copyright I do not just defend artistic creation, I also defend my idea of a free society where everyone’s freedom is based on respect for the rights of others. I am also defending the future of our culture. It is the future of creation.”
It’s a strong argument. Governments have a duty to uphold the law, and most peer-to-peer filesharing is illegal. By playing a “respecting others’ rights” card Sarkozy may have earned points in the eyes of those who have seen him as merely a puppet of entertainment industry.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that the HADOPI law would target those accused of filesharing. No trial takes place, no judge is involved. The first two warnings are via email. After a third alleged offence the suspect is added to the ISP blacklist.
In 21st Century Europe an internet connection is an important utility. To deny it to someone without a fair trial is a brazen move, and one that many will object to no matter how passionately Nicolas Sarkozy argues.