French ISP Relents, Will Send “Three-Strikes” After All

French ISP Relents, Will Send “Three-Strikes” After All

Free bows to govt decree, and will begin sending out “three-strikes” email warnings to its customers on the govt’s behalf sometime later today.

Last week I first mentioned how the French ISP Free was refusing to submit electronic “three-strikes” warning letters to its customers on the govt’s behalf as part of the “Creation and Internet” law, the controversial “three-strikes” measure to fight P2P that was formally passed last September. It cited Article L331-25 of the Code of Intellectual Property which says that warning letters shall be submitted by the Commission for the Protection of Rights “under its seal and on its behalf, electronically and “through” ISPs.

Free argued that the inclusion of the word “through” meant exactly that, and that if anything the govt needs to setup a secure SMTP server within the ISP to contact its customers on their own.

Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterand “condemned” Free and vowed to issue a decree clarifying the requirement, a promise he lived up to recently, stunning many who thought the process would take at least several weeks and require formal tweaking of the “Creation and Internet Law.”

Free reportedly prepared to challenge the decree on the grounds that the regulatory authority for electronic communications and postal services was not consulted as required by law, but that plan has apparently been put on hold – at least for now.

It surely believes the original language of the law and the subsequent decree don’t require it to send email warnings, but likely calculated that the financial risk of noncompliance is too great at 1,500 euros ($2094 USD) per IP address.

It didn’t help matters any that French President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to make an example of a “rebellious” ISP.

According to Electron Libre:

A velocity that surprised to old regulars of the Rue de Valois, but it must be said, explaining that, as the gun went very high. Nicolas Sarkozy himself has pressed the button! The letter was then passed by the Culture Council of the Elysee, which has not blocked, before landing in front of Frédéric Mitterrand. The order was clear: we must make an example of the rebellious …

With Pres Sarkozy gunning for your defeat its now wonder they chose to toe the “three-strikes” line, especially after he’s repeatedly vowed to do everything in his power to “protect” copyright holders, even calling increased Internet regulation a “moral imperative” necessary to “correct the excesses and abuses that arise from the total absence of rules.”

With that kind of hyperbole and rhetoric it’s no wonder they decided to back down. Free still has two months to challenge the decree, but fighting the inevitable seems a losing proposition in my opinion.

Stay tuned.

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