France Passes “Three Strikes” Anti-Piracy Law

The controversial French HADOPI anti-piracy law was passed by the National Assembly today, one step closer to being signed into action. The new law introduces draconian measures to combat piracy including a "three strikes" regime for persistent offenders.

In an attempt to reduce piracy, the French have passed a new law requiring Internet service providers to cut off Internet access for repeat copyright infringers. Under the new ‘HADOPI’ legislation ISPs have to warn their customers twice that they are accused of infringing copyright. If both warnings are ignored, Internet access for that subscriber will be terminated for up to a year – and they’ll have to keep paying their ISP bill throughout this period too.

The law goes much further than disconnecting alleged file-sharers though. In addition it is now possible to take “any action” in order to put a halt to copyright infringement. For example, websites can be blocked without having to provide hard evidence that they are engaging in illegal activities. The Pirate Bay has already been mentioned as one of the sites that could be easily taken out under the new law.

This afternoon the National Assembly passed HADOPI with 296 votes in favor and 233 against. The law was already supposed to have passed in early April, but at the time the Socialists block turned up unannounced, outnumbering the deputies from the UMP. The law will now be voted on in the Senate tomorrow after which it will be final.

As with most technical issues, the people who had to decide on the law have no clue about file-sharing at all. As we reported earlier, many of the politicians don’t know what BitTorrent is, or how it works. Yet they get to decide the fate of millions of Internet users.

HADOPI goes against the Telecoms Package of the European Parliament which aims to protect European citizens against such disproportionate legislation because it violates the rights and freedoms of Internet users. A few days ago HADOPI already claimed its first victim, the head of web innovation at the largest TV network in France who criticized the law in a letter to his MP. More victims are likely to follow in the months to come.

Update (May 13): The Senate passed the new law with 189 votes in favor and 14 against.

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