Hadopi Sends 100,000 Warning Emails To Suspected Pirates

Hadopi, the French authority with responsibility for issuing warnings to illicit file-sharers, has just announced that so far it has sent out 100,000 email warnings. While the figure is far below the 50-70,000 reports filed by the entertainment industry every day, around 15% of warning recipients have responded by email, some with confessions, some with confusion.

According to those involved in France’s “3 strikes” illicit file-sharing process, the Hadopi authority has sent a total of 100,000 warning emails to Internet account holders since October.

The figure is substantially below the requirements of the entertainment industries who had begun sending complaints to Hadopi at the rate of 25,000 per day in the hope that they would all be passed on. They weren’t, but that didn’t stop the submissions quickly reaching 50,000 per day. The total capacity is 70,000 per day.

The complaints bottleneck has continued, with magistrates involved in the process informing Le Figaro this week that since November Hadopi has been sending out warning emails at the rate of 2,000 per day.

This much lower rate was set for a reason. Ever since its inception critics have believed that the system would be prone to error and innocent people would be accused of offenses they didn’t commit. That may well prove to be the case, but by keeping the numbers down the error rate will stay low too, an essential requirement if people are to have confidence in the process.

Magistrates involved in the process say “It’s too early to conclude” if the emails will have the required long-term effect on recipients. However, they say that around 15% of those receiving these first warnings have actually responded to them by email.

The warning emails don’t currently mention the infringing material in question, so some responses request additional information on which files the warning refers to. According to Jacques Bille from the Court of Auditors, the omission is deliberate to avoid embarrassment, such as wives and girlfriends discovering their partners have downloaded something questionable.

While some warning recipients simply confess and swear not to do it again, others are reportedly making their excuses. Only time will tell if they have a case, and if that case is heard to their satisfaction as has been promised.

Next year its inevitable that the 2,000 emails being sent out daily will increase and according to Jacques Bille, with this comes a dilemma.

“Either we send out hordes of emails and be seen as horribly repressive,” he told Le Figaro, “or we are more cautious and we qualify as ineffective.”

In January 2011, things will step up a gear, with Hadopi sending out more emails and then letters by registered mail to repeat offenders. The promise is that repeat offenders face having their Internet disconnected. Quite when that will happen, 2011 or 2012, remains to be seen, but the entertainment industries want action, quickly.

Update: Guillaume Champeau from news outlet Numerama has been in touch to say that although French media including Le Figaro have been reporting that 100,000 warnings have been sent, Hadopi has in fact asked ISPs to identify 100,000 alleged infringers. The number of subsequent letters sent out has not yet been verified, but Guillaume believes the number to be lower than 100,000. According to new reports the number of emails lies between 20,000 and 25,000.

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