French "three-strikes" anti-piracy law may be repealedBy Rick Burgess
Hadopi, France's "three-strikes" anti-piracy law, could be in for sweeping changes or even discarded as officials once again ponder the controversial measure. According to the New York Times, France's administration is exploring the closure of the agency tasked with enforcing the country's experiment in curbing digital property theft.
When introduced, the Hadopi law promised to warn French copyright offenders twice before taking action: first with an email warning and second with a mailed notice. The third online offense meant the loss of Internet access for one year.
Fast forward to the present and the law has been criticized for making little difference. In fact, one look into the law's efficacy indicated digital piracy actually rose by three percent during its first year in effect. SNEP, a French music industry trade group, confirmed increasing piracy with its own figures of a seven percent increase between 2010 and 2013.
France's minister of technology, Fleur Pellerin, likened Hadopi's threat of Internet suspension to "cutting off water" in modern society. Critics also argue that very few three-strikers are actually caught and when they are, their punishment is rarely the year-long Internet ban prescribed by the law. Hundreds of thousands of warnings have been issued, but "only a handful" of cases have reached a third strike. Cases that do make it to court are often thrown out or have their "Internet sentence" suspended or modified.
In place of the one-year Internet disconnect for repeat offenders, some officials are considering a ~$78 fine. Fines are said to be part of a broader strike against online piracy though, which may include efforts to filter infringing materials. The SNEP told officials it supports a fine-based approach, but only if the warning system remains intact and the penalty is raised. Meanwhile, some lawmakers made it clear they would like to see the three-strikes system and its penalties binned entirely.