France’s controversial project to fight illicit downloads is back in the news. First voted down by the country’s National Assembly, passed in a second attempt and then ruled unconstitutional, the so-called “three-strikes” bill has been reworked and passed one more time for consideration by the National Assembly and French Constitutional Council. It seems that one way or another the Sarkozy regime is determined to adopt this law.
The original version was set up as a three-strikes system in which a state agency known by the acronym HADOPI would track and punish copyright violators – first sending an email warning, then a letter and finally cutting off a user's internet connection. France’s Constitutional Council said that citizens deserved a court hearing, however, as only a judge should have the power to deny a user access to the Internet.
The revised bill has moved the authority to disconnect file-sharers away from HADOPI to the courts. As it stands now, when someone is warned about an infringement for a third time, the agency will report the offender to a judge, who would either impose an Internet ban, a fine of up to $415,000 or a two-year jail sentence. These decisions would be made under a fast-track ruling system that would give judges merely a few minutes per case.