France Formally Mulls 3-Strikes Policy to Disconnect Pirates

Could take effect as early as January 1st, 2009.

Yesterday France moved one step closer to adopting a sweeping plan to crackdown on illegal file-sharing after Culture Minister Christine Albanel presented a three-strikes bill to the French President’s Cabinet.

She called it a balanced plan and “takes an essentially preventive and educational approach” to illicit downloading.

“We know that we are not going to eradicate piracy 100 percent, but we think that we can reduce it significantly,” Albanel told a news conference.

Under the three-strikes policy, which will be taken up by Parliament in the Fall, and could come into effect as early as January 1st, 2009, suspected pirates will first get an e-mail warning, followed by a registered letter, and then lastly losing their Internet subscription for up to a year for repeat violations.

“There is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone,” said President Nicolas Sarkozy to his Cabinet following the bills introduction.

The plan will be enforced by a new govt agency to be called “Hadopi” (high authority for copyright protection and dissemination of works on the internet).

Unsurprisingly, the music industry loves the proposal.

“It’s a great initiative that is good news for the whole music sector and we hope it will get through the legislative process as quickly as possible,” said Adrian Strain, the director of communications for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). “We’re very pleased to see France taking the lead in addressing the critical issue of internet piracy.”

Pascal Rogard, director of the SACD,a group of song and scriptwriters, blames his fellow countrymens’ love for “culture products.”

“The French are champions when it comes to Internet piracy,” he said. “That’s because many of them have high-speed Internet at home and they are also enthusiastic consumers of cultural products.”

Opponents however, criticize the plan for targeting people who “happen to love culture” and disconnecting people from what has become a critical means of communication, education, and even employment.

The European Parliament has already criticized three-strikes proposals, saying that “criminalizing consumers who are not seeking to profit from the acts is not the solution to combating Internet piracy.”

In return for France instituting such drastic anti-piracy measures, the entertainment industry pledges to also drop existing DRM protections on French content so that legally purchased digital music or videos will work on any media player.

It’s sort of ironic that France, the birthplace of democracy and freedom, where the authoritarian shackles of aristocratic rule and oppression were first cast off in Europe, will now be the first to suppress both and put them back on.