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This article was published on July 9, 2013

    France u-turns on controversial ‘three strikes’ Hadopi Internet disconnection law

    France u-turns on controversial ‘three strikes’ Hadopi Internet disconnection law Image by: Getty Images
    Ben Woods
    Story by

    Ben Woods

    Europe Editor

    Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

    The French Government has done an about-turn on a law that saw suspected copyright infringers’ Internet connections cut off after two written warnings.

    The highly controversial Hadopi law (and accompanying unit) was first mooted in 2009 with support from the ex-French President Nicholas Sakozy and saw the introduction of a “graduated response” system of warning letters sent out to subscribers suspected of downloading copyrighted material, ultimately culminating in disconnection from the Internet for repeat offenders. Like baseball, suspected offenders got two warnings then were ‘out’ (disconnected) on the third.

    However, after years of debate, the controversial automatic disconnection after two ‘strikes’ part of the law has been dropped.

    The change in approach stems from a significant shift from focusing on end-users to looking more closely at the sites facilitating the sharing.

    [Google Translation] “The priority now is the fight against commercial piracy, otherwise against sites that profit from pirated content, monetize without pay[ing] creators. This is a change in philosophy, which is based on the desire to no longer oppose the creators and users threatening them a break from their access to the Internet, while the latter has become a major gateway to the culture, especially for young people,” a spokesperson said.

    The statement also said that the reversal of the law means the abolition of a “a totally inappropriate punishment”.

    The real world

    While most will celebrate the reversal of a law that functioned so disproportionately and potentially threatened the human rights of French citizens by denying them access to the Internet, that doesn’t help the SINGLE person that suffered disconnection out of the millions of letters sent out since 2009.

    In fact, the only time the termination clause had ever been used was by a district court of Seine-Saint-Denis a few weeks ago. The unfortunate individual was fined €600 and disconnected for 15 days following written warnings.

    As well as abolishing the disconnection capacity of the Hadopi law, the Ministry of Culture and Communication said responsibility for informing of suspected infringement will now fall to the Conseil Superieur De L’Audiovisuel (CSA) .

    However, that’s not to say France is giving up its push back against copyright theft, simply that it’s most draconian and heavy-handed measure is now off the table. Instead, TorrentFreak reports, repeat infringers can be punished with a fine of up to €1,500.

    Featured Image Credit – Getty Images