Six Ways File-Sharers Will Neutralize 3 Strikes

After extended legal battles, France's President Sarkozy finally got his way. This year will see some of the most aggressive anti-piracy action against citizens which, if ministers are to be believed, will dramatically reduce online piracy. This might be possible, if the measures weren't so easily circumvented.

After some epic legal wrangling, vote after vote, and protest upon protest, the French government finally got their way. In 2010, those caught sharing files illegally in France will be subjected to the much-touted “3 strikes” regime.

When ‘caught’ uploading copyright works for the first time, the owner of the Internet connection used for the alleged infringement will receive an email warning. On allegations of a second offense, a physical letter will drop through the door. On the the third, the account holder will be summoned to appear before a judge who will have the power to fine, or even disconnect them from the Internet.

French senator Michel Thiolliere has told the BBC that the so-called Hadopi legislation will have the desired effect, with nearly everyone warned a second time abandoning illegal file-sharing for good.

“What we think is that after the first message… about two-thirds of the people (will) stop their illegal usages of the internet,” he explained

“After the second message more than 95% will finish with that bad usage.”

It is, however, much more likely that after getting a first warning, or even before, French Internet users will try to find a way round this system. They will discover that it’s surprisingly easy.

6 Ways Savvy Internet Users Will Neutralize Hadopi

Free options

MP3 Search Engines

One of the simplest ways to find music online is to use an MP3 search engine. That won’t be difficult as there are dozens to choose from. Sites like Skreemr, Songza, beeMP3, MP3Realm and AirMP3 are very simple to use and since there is no uploading, they drive a cart and horses through Hadopi. For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, Google offers similar functionality with their filetype: search operator.

Direct Downloads

During 2008 and 2009, the continued rise of blogs and forums that link to music, movies, tv shows and games stored on so-called cyberlocker sites was difficult to ignore. Although links can get taken down very quickly by copyright holders, they are often replaced just as swiftly by the communities that frequent such sites. The international music industry is particularly worried about the phenomenon, as tracking those that download from sites such as Rapidshare and MegaUpload is completely impractical.

Of course there are also perfectly legal alternatives, such as the excellent Jamendo.

Streaming Music and Video

While there are dozens of sites to visit directly, for those who really can’t be bothered to look any further and don’t mind closing a couple of slightly annoying popups, OVGuide is a huge portal to thousands of movies, TV shows and general video. With the assistance of the DivX plug-in, most content can be streamed directly in compatible web-browsers.

Music fans who don’t mind to stream tracks in their web browser actually have a few dozen legal alternatives. Grooveshark is one of the most elaborate music services. It holds more content than the average download store, supports playlists and it will roll out an iPhone app.

Premium options

Overseas MP3 Sites

Just over the English Channel from France lies the UK. Research carried out there recently by the BPI indicated that usage of MP3 pay sites had increased by 47%. While users do have to hand over money to use these services, at a tiny fraction of prices they would pay in their homeland they prove attractive to those on a tight budget.

Newsgroups

Using Usenet, or newsgroups as they are commonly known, is one of the most secure ways of downloading movies, TV shows, music and video games.

While the learning curve on Usenet is considered by many to be quite steep, once an individual discovers .NZB files – the .torrent of the newsgroup world – everything is hugely simplified. Within seconds of starting a transfer, the user’s connection will be completely maxed-out.

On a practical basis, and certainly as far as Hadopi is concerned, paying a few euros each month for a decent newsgroup account means that French citizens need never fear being disconnected from the Internet. Indeed, not even the first warning email will arrive.

Anonymous VPN

While the above options require that Internet users modify their behaviors, by spending a few euros a month on an anonymous VPN account they won’t have to change any of their habits at all. They can continue to use BitTorrent, eD2K or any other P2P method of file-sharing.

Once subscribed to a service such as Netherlands-based ItsHidden (who also offer a free, but speed-limited service), Hadopi file-sharing investigators will believe that the user behind that IP address is from another country and simply move on.

As the failed and now largely abandoned campaign against file-sharers in the United States proved, scare tactics simply don’t work. There are millions of file-sharers in France and many will simply carry on their activities in the belief that the odds of being caught are extremely slim.

And they would be absolutely right.

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