France passes 'three strikes' anti-piracy law

Natalie Apostolou
25 Sep 2009

Following a series of delays and a significant overhaul, France’s controversial “three-strikes” anti- piracy legislation has finally been passed by both the Senate and the National Assembly.

The new version has been dubbed “HADOPI 2” after the acronym of the special agency it will create, the High Authority for the Dissemination of Creative Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (Hadopi).

It allows the state to warn twice and then disconnect illegal file-sharers’ internet connections for up to a year, subject to a court ruling.

Hadopi has stated that it expects to send out 50,000 suspension warnings a year.

Socialist MPs and digital libertarians however are not backing down in their opposition to the new law and are planning to appeal against its introduction.

Freedom of speech lobby group Reporters San Frontières (RSF) claims that the bill is vague and incomplete and could lead to the prosecution of innocent consumers and ISPs.

“It does not specify the mechanism to be used to search for illegal downloads. If it is an algorithm, there is every reason to fear it will be poor at distinguishing legal from illegal online activity. Similarly, how do you prove the innocence of someone whose IP address is hijacked for the purposes of illegal downloading, and no trace is left?” RSF said.

Analysts claim the legislation is one of the toughest anti-piracy laws in the world. In addition to disconnection, repeat offenders can face fines of up to €3,000 ($4,395) and/or imprisonment, while in extreme cases, people can be charged with “forgery”, a crime that comes with a potential €300,000 fine and up to three years in jail.

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