3-Strikes Law to Disconnect French Pirates

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Over the past few months, many countries have looked into the possibility of disconnecting file-sharers from the Internet. Today, France is the first to present their new "3-strikes" law, which allows anti-piracy outfits such as IFPI, RIAA and MPAA to police the Internet.

A few weeks after the University of Washington showed that “copyright infringement warnings” are based on reckless tactics, France announces to use these notices to disconnect pirates from the Internet. The warning emails, sent by anti-piracy organizations, often carry the force of law with an ISP, despite being a blind unproven accusation. Lobby groups have pushed for these notices to be all the evidence needed for punishment in some countries, and France is the latest to follow the lobby money, with a 3-strikes law just proposed.

The new legislation will make it possible to disconnect people from the Internet, if they receive more than two copyright infringement warnings. The warnings will be sent out by the ISPs, solely based on data gathered by anti-piracy organizations.

Christine Albanel, the French Minister of Culture presented the new bill today. She hopes the bill will significant reduce online piracy, and is quoted as saying at a press conference: “We know that we are not going to eradicate piracy 100 percent, but we think that we can reduce it significantly.” President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has spoken out in favor of the new legislation before, backed the Minister, and commented: “There is no reason that the Internet should be lawless.”

If the new bill passes, anti-piracy organizations will be in complete control of the Internet subscriptions of French citizens. There will be a new agency that will forward their complaints to ISPs, who will then send out the warning emails. One of the major problems is, however, that the data gathering techniques, as used by IFPI, MPAA and RIAA, are far from accurate.

Interestingly, the French law goes directly against the European Parliament who, this April, condemned state plans to authorize the disconnection of suspected file-sharers from the Internet. European Parliament said that disconnecting petty file-sharers would be “conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness”.

The controversial bill will come before parliament this autumn, and if it passes, the new legislation will become effective on January 1st, 2009.


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