France Passes “Three-Strikes” Law

Now just a matter of time before the anti-file-sharing law goes into affect.

The French National Assembly formally passed the “Creation and Internet Law”  late last Thursday, and sadly in an almost empty chamber, that creates a so-called “three-strikes” policy for those accused of illegal file-sharing.

It’s now in the hands of the Joint Committee, comprised of 7 members of parliament and 7 senators, which must go over the bill line by line to work out any differences. It’s scheduled to meet this Thursday.

The legislation creates the Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet (HADOPI), a new govt agency whose task it will be to sanction those accused of illegal file-sharing. Offenders will receive two separate warnings about their illegal activities before losing Internet access for up to a year. The names of the “three-strikers” will appear on a blacklist to prevent ISP shopping. The Internet access ban replaces current provisions that call for up to three years in prison and 300,000 euros in fines.

Lawmakers thankfully voted to strike a provision that would’ve required banned users to continue paying their Internet connection fees despite having no access.

Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t protect people from being falsely accused. Copyright holders are still targeting an IP address and not the actual individual responsible for the infringement. It means that people will have to make sure their connection is properly secured at the risk of losing it entirely for up to a year.

Also troubling is that a teenager’s illegal downloading can penalize an entire family, or that a neighbor can piggyback on an unsecured i-fi connection and also hold the innocent responsiblele.

Some noted the absurdity of creating a situation where people may have to go Internet begging from neighbors.

“We are all fighting for our rural communities to have Internet access and we will remove it for some families,” noted Marc le Fur, UMP Deputy.

La Quadrature du Net, an Internet freedom organization, also denounced the bills passage.

“The vote … is a symbol of the technological ignorance of a government and a majority in the service of a blind corporatism, ” said group representative Jeremie Zimmermann. “The industries that required the Hadopi are not close to being saved (by this law).”

The International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) naturally praised the French govt.

“The French government has taken a decisive step to protect artists and creators, setting an example to the rest of the world,” said John Kennedy, the group’s chairman and chief executive. “The great thing about this French initiative is that it will result in very sensible and achievable actions by ISPs to reduce piracy in a way that is overwhelmingly preventative and not punitive.”

The bill’s passage is unlikely to affect file-sharing altogether, as the savvy will simply turn to darknets or VPN services off copyright holder’s radar. But, what it will do is establish the troubling precedent of allowing private businesses to become gatekeepers of the Internet.

Even Culture Minister Christine Albanel admits the bill will do little to stop the “the mass phenomenon that is piracy of cultural products.”

She only hopes the bill will somehow “shape a new mindset among Internet users with regard to cultural diversity and the economic and legal conditions necessary to preserve it.”

Good luck with that. Too bad “shaping” means disconnecting people from society.