France Attacks Finances of Cyberlocker and Streaming Sites

France's Hadopi agency has announced the next phase in its ongoing battle against unauthorized Internet file-sharing. In common with its counterparts in the United States, work is now underway to strangle the finances of direct download, cyberlocker and video streaming sites. The agency hopes to report significant progress by early 2012.

Having failed to make any significant impact on the growth of P2P file-sharing by directly attacking or threatening sites such as The Pirate Bay, countries are turning to other methods to tackle the issue.

As witnessed through the recent media storms surrounding SOPA and PROTECT IP in the United States, proposed measures are becoming ever more drastic, often targeting the financial and business infrastructures of so-called rogue sites, the exact definition of which remains unclear.

According to their Hadopi anti-piracy agency, France will be the latest country to travel down a similar controversial route.

“The knowledge gained through the successful deployment of the flexible [3 strikes] response and technical, legal and economic experiments carried out by the Hadopi, today allow us to initiate a new stage in the protection of copyright on the Internet,” the agency said in an announcement.

Hadopi says that many sites have used the natural evolution of technologies to offer direct download (DDL) and streaming portals which “specialize in the massive exploitation of illegal content” from which huge profits are generated.

“It is now time to enter an active phase of struggle against this behavior,” says Hadopi.

What will now follow is a consultation period involving those likely to be affected by the strategy. These will include the cyberlocker and DDL sites themselves, Internet service providers, banking and payment providers, plus advertising networks.

The discussions will also investigate the limits of existing legislative tools and propose amendments should they be found lacking.

Guillaume Champeau of Numerama, a news site at the forefront of French online issues, informs TorrentFreak that Hadopi’s plans are currently unclear, but have serious potential. An existing provision in the so-called Hadopi law says that rights holders can get a judge to pass a ruling on emergency measures that can help to fight piracy.

“It is an extremely broad provision – the broadest I know in French law – which could lead to an infinity of measures: filtering, domain names foreclosures, payments prohibition, etc,” says Champeau.

“It has no limit but the imagination of rights holders, and does not require that the impacted websites defend themselves. So I guess it is very close to the Protect-IP Act. The Hadopi will probably push a slight rewriting of the law, so that it can go before the court to use this provision itself, when today it is only available only to rights holders.”

At this stage Hadopi are promising that the upcoming discussions will be “conducted in a transparent and open manner” and hopes to report significant progress on all matters by the end of the first quarter 2012.

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