Commonly known as “three strikes” or variants thereof, these schemes were promoted as educational in nature, with alleged pirates receiving escalating warnings designed to discourage further infringing behavior.
In the fall of 2010, France became one of the pioneers of the warning system and now almost more than seven years later, a new report from the country’s ‘Hadopi’ anti-piracy agency has revealed the extent of its operations.
Between July 2016 and June 2017, Hadopi sent a total of 889 cases to court, a 30% uplift on the 684 cases handed over during the same period 2015/2016. This boost is notable, not least since the use of peer-to-peer protocols (such as BitTorrent, which Hadopi closely monitors) is declining in favor of streaming methods.
When all the seven years of the scheme are added together ending August 31, 2017, the numbers are even more significant.
“Since the launch of the graduated response scheme, more than 2,000 cases have been sent to prosecutors for possible prosecution,” Hadopi’s report reads.
“The number of cases sent to the prosecutor’s office has increased every year, with a significant increase in the last two years. Three-quarters of all the cases sent to prosecutors have been sent since July 2015.”
In all, the Hadopi agency has sent more than nine million first warning notices to alleged pirates since 2012, with more than 800,000 follow-up warnings on top, 200,000 of them during 2016-2017. But perhaps of most interest is the number of French citizens who, despite all the warnings, carried on with their pirating behavior and ended up prosecuted as a result.
Since the program’s inception, 583 court decisions have been handed down against pirates. While 394 of them resulted in a small fine, a caution, or other community-based punishment, 189 citizens walked away with a criminal conviction.
These can include fines of up to 1,500 euros or in more extreme cases, up to three years in prison and/or a 300,000 euro fine.
While this approach looks set to continue into 2018, Hadopi’s report highlights the need to adapt to a changing piracy landscape, one which requires a multi-faceted approach. In addition to tracking pirates, Hadopi also has a mission to promote legal offerings while educating the public. However, it is fully aware that these strategies alone won’t be enough.
To that end, the agency is calling for broader action, such as faster blocking of sites, expanding to the blocking of mirror sites, tackling unauthorized streaming platforms and, of course, dealing with the “fully-loaded” set-top box phenomenon that’s been sweeping the world for the past two years.
The full report can be downloaded here (pdf, French)