In 2010, France became a pioneer of the so-called “graduated response” system for dealing with online piracy.
The plan was to deter users of peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent to refrain from sharing copyrighted content by sending them escalating warnings, with the ultimate threat of Internet disconnection or other punitive measures.
The system is overseen by government agency Hadopi, the High Authority for the Distribution and Protection of Intellectual Property on the Internet. Periodically the agency publishes its progress in the field, with the latest report made public this week.
Covering the period between January 2019 to August 2019, the report shows that Hadopi has been kept busy. The headline figure is that 479,177 Internet users received an email indicating they’d received a ‘first strike’ after allegedly sharing copyrighted material online without permission.
The next step up the ladder, the so-called ‘second strike’ notices, are sent to individuals who reportedly carried out a repeat infringement within six months of the first. Hadopi says it sent 165,683 of these to France-based Internet users by both email and physical letter, making a grand total of 644,860 notices sent overall.
The so-called ‘graduated response’ means that after each warning there is an escalation of seriousness with the authorities. So, after a ‘third strike’ in a 12 month period, Hadopi can refer cases to the public prosecutor.
Between January and August this year, 1,149 such cases were sent to the judicial authority. This is a considerable increase over the last set of published figures which showed that 1,045 similar cases were referred during the whole of 2018.
Of the 1,149 cases referred, Hadopi reports there are 387 known outcomes thus far. A total of 301 cases were settled without criminal prosecutions, with 199 people being cautioned. 64 cases were settled with fines of between 100 euros and 500 euros alongside a citizenship course, with the remainder dealt with in other ways.
A total of 86 cases ended in a criminal conviction. These included 31 sentences for “gross negligence” resulting in fines averaging 350 euros plus 300 euros in damages. These appear to have been cases where Internet connections were repeatedly used to infringe, without the connection owner taking preventative measures.
Of the 86 convictions, 47 concluded with repeat infringers receiving fines ranging from 150 euros to 1,000 euros.
Hadopi’s report for the first eight months of 2019 can be found here (pdf)