French Government Mulls Next Generation Anti-Piracy Measures

After pioneering one of the world's first "three strikes" anti-piracy schemes the French are now turning their attention to other methods of obtaining unauthorized media. A new report just published by the Hadopi agency tackles the issue of streaming and direct download sites, which currently the organization is doing little about. No surprise that filtering, site blocking and domain seizures are being touted as possible solutions to this growing element of online piracy.

France’s graduated response system for dealing with online file-sharing is not only famous around the world but also popular with rightsholders. Those who are repeatedly monitored sharing copyrighted material via peer-to-peer networks can expect a short series of warning messages followed by a punishment.

Since the system only covers BitTorrent-like public transfers, streaming and direct download sites are an attractive option for Internet users wishing to avoid its clutches. But despite the Hadopi anti-piracy agency declaring last year that there had been “a clear downward trend in illegal P2P downloads” but no “massive transfer in forms of use to streaming technologies or direct downloads”, there is still interest in these mechanisms.

French news outlet PCInpact has directed TorrentFreak to a new report published by Hadopi which proposes draconian messages to force streaming and Direct Download (DDL) sites to comply with the law.

“Some Internet sites, streaming services and direct download sites are specialized in the massive exploitation of illegal content from which they make profits for their own benefit,” the Hadopi writes. “This report, showing the state of the ecosystem of illegal streaming and direct downloads, explores different ways to fight against the massive exploitation of illegal content.”

The report, put together by Mireille Imbert-Quaretta, President at the Commission for the Protection of Rights (Commission de Protection des Droits), covers a wide range of anti-piracy techniques, some well-trodden and others more fresh.

Hadopi has always claimed that “three strikes” is primarily an educational effort and in combating streaming and direct downloads the agency begins with the same approach. Internet users should be educated about the “dangers” of obtaining media via these mechanisms through warning messages sent by Hadopi.

Aiming to push the sites themselves towards YouTube-levels of copyright compliance, Hadopi would like them to implement content recognition and filtering technologies utilizing fingerprints supplied by rightsholders. These systems could be used to completely remove content or restrict user access based on location.

However, the report goes much further by suggesting that if site operators refuse to sign filtering agreements with rightsholders and illicit content repeatedly appears, they could be subjected to a strikes-style system of their own.

“In the event that it would not be possible to reach an agreement because of the apparent unwillingness of the platform hosting the reported content [to comply with the law], the public authority may decide to correct the behavior of the platform through an alert procedure,” Numerama reports.

Suggested punishments for sites are varied, including reporting them to search engines for delisting. Google has already taken steps to remove French sites including AlloStreaming from its index in the past.

In addition, sites could be reported to a judge in order to begin a domain blocking process. Once blocked by IP and DNS, Hadopi wants to have the power to ensure that domains (and any subsequent mirrors) remain blocked. Outright domain seizures are also a possibility.

Also, in a move that mirrors more recent anti-piracy activity involving PayPal and certain credit cards, Hadopi wants to hit operators in the pocket by targeting the financial intermediaries of sites subjected to the copyright alerts procedure. This could include suspension or termination of payments but if financial partners refuse to cooperate, Hadopi suggests it could take the matter to court.

Finally, and adding momentum to initiatives underway in the United States, Hadopi wants to strangle advertising to sites subjected to the alerts procedure.

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