This week, the French authority Hadopi issued its first order of disconnecting the net for a person who shared culture and knowledge. Hadopi’s behavior is completely illegal. In 2009, the European Parliament made such disconnections unquestionably and explicitly illegal.
In 2009, the ugly French authority Hadopi – with the mission of cutting people off from the internet for the good deed of sharing culture and knowledge – reared its head.
This was in the middle of the copyright industry’s “mass disconnection” strategy, where they saw it fit to legislate mass disconnections to protect their obsolete industry.
Fortunately for everybody else, an election interrupted the otherwise-prepared legislative process, and a new European Parliament got to finalize the bills that would have made such disconnections possible throughout Europe. It was obvious that the bill was intended to pass without discussion.
Unfortunately for the copyright industry, the Pirate Party got a seat on the final negotiating committee in the European Parliament, and we were able to – with the help of brilliant activists like Monica Horten – educate everybody else on the parliamentary committee as to what was actually happening. It stopped being a matter of having Parliament steamrolled into just passing the bill without question, and escalated into a matter of Parliament’s dignity. “We’re the Parliament, not a doormat”, as some legislators made very clear.
That derailed the intended process of enabling “Three Strikes” disconnections across Europe. The very opposite became law, in no small part thanks to the footwork of the Pirate Party in the European Parliament and that negotiation committee.
The civil rights violations that the French Hadopi agency intended to carry out – disenfranchising people from most of their civil liberties – was specifically targeted when writing the language for the Telecoms Package bills. The language of the bills was not good enough until it made super clear that disconnecting anybody from the net without a prior fair and full adversarial court proceeding – exactly the thing the copyright industry had intended to bypass and cut citizens off en masse – was completely illegal across all of the European Union, and by extension, through the European Economic Area.
The text in the Telecoms Package bill had to pass the “Hadopi Test”, as it was actually called in the European Parliament – making it absolutely clear that what Hadopi intended to do was to be made completely illegal.
For today, we exercise all our fundamental liberties – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of expression – through the net. Therefore, the net has itself become just as fundamental a liberty as all the other fundamental liberties we exercise through it.
It shouldn’t even be a matter of discussion that you can’t cut anybody off from the net, not any more than you can order them to not read newspapers, not meet anybody, or not speak.
But alas, the copyright industry is infamous for ignoring the law completely when they don’t like what it says, and throwing loud tantrums when anybody else doesn’t do what they demand (sometimes regardless of law). They seem to be stuck in the “mine, mine, mine, waaaaaah” mindset of a three-year-old, and what’s worse, they’re completely oblivious to the concept of equality before the law.
The Hadopi bureaucrats who made the decision of cutting somebody off from the net and their fundamental rights this week deserve to go to jail for a considerable time, so they can contemplate the concept of being equal before the law; how the law isn’t intended to protect the copyright industry against the people but never the other way around. Unfortunately, that will not happen under French law, but the Hadopi can and should still be sued for ridiculously punitive amounts in European courts for this deed. There is no way they can claim ignorance of the law in this matter, and even if they are arguably ignorant, that’s still not a defense.
As a final note, it seems copyright monopoly lobbyists think they can get this disconnection scheme in Britain now, too. I would encourage anybody in the affected countries – France and Britain – to sue the shirt off their backs. What they’re attempting to do is illegal. Not “maybe illegal”, not “possibly in a grey area”, but “deliberately targeted behavior written into law as specifically illegal”.
Update: In response to the opinion above some commenters rightfully point out that the disconnection order comes from a judge. These and other issues are discussed below, feel free to add yours.