French Opposition to Challenge 3 Strikes in Court

After its initial adoption in May and subsequent striking down by France’s highest legal authority, the Hadopi “3 strikes” law was accepted in July by the Senate, and last week it was passed in the National Assembly. The legislation was finally approved in parliament yesterday, but the opposition immediately announced a fresh court challenge.

Following its initial adoption in May, the original version of the controversial Hadopi (High Authority for the Dissemination of Creative Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet) anti-piracy legislation was nuked by the Constitutional Council, France’s highest legal authority.

On July 8th, a modified version of the bill was accepted by the Senate following reassurances that any final decision to disconnect an Internet user under a 3 strikes regime would be handled by a judge.

Last week French legislators voted on this compromise bill. In the National Assembly it passed with 285 votes in favor and 225 votes against. This acceptance signaled the bill would move to the Senate for approval.

The bill, which has received strong support from President Nicolas Sarkozy and musican first lady Carla Bruni, was passed yesterday in the joint legislative committee of the two houses by 258 votes in favor to 131 against.

Under the law, once an individual has been warned about a third online copyright infringement, he or she will enter a mechanism which will see them reported to a judge. After a hearing the judge will have the power to cut the individual off from the Internet, and issue a range of other penalties including fines.

Reporters Without Borders referred to the legislation critically, saying it was “..alarmed that the alleged offender will not be given details of the illegal download when the disconnection order is issued. This recalls the censorship methods in force prior to the 1881 press freedom law, when the censor did not have to tell offenders why they were being censored.”

The bill now requires Nicolas Sarkozy’s signature to become law, but even this will face dissent.

The opposition Socialists, who were responsible for taking the earlier version of the law to the constitutional council, immediately announced that they will mount another challenge.

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