Business News Legal

French trois-strikes body launches information campaign

By | Published on Wednesday 25 August 2010

Hadopi, the agency set up to administer France’s new three-strikes anti-copyright infringement system, has launched an information campaign to let illegal downloaders in France know about how the country’s new Creation And Internet laws could affect them.

As previously reported, the French government was one of the first to respond to the music industry’s call for new laws that force internet service providers to take a more proactive role in policing online piracy, by sending warning letters to and ultimately cutting off persistent illegal file-sharers.

Fully aware that the worst offenders when it comes to accessing illegal content on the internet are almost all car owners, the organisation distributed 260,000 leaflets to drivers on French roads last weekend, and plan to do the same again this weekend. It’s possible they were actually trying to target families and their evil file-sharing children, rather than car owners.

According to Billboard, the leaflet informs its readers: “[The] internet is a space of freedom, expression and sharing. The development of new communications technology allows an increase in cultural exchanges. Our practices are changing and offer greater freedom. Nevertheless, [the enjoyment of] new freedoms brought new responsibilities”.

It then goes on to explain that in return for all that new ‘freedom’ the government is going to kick them in the face (figuratively) if they fuck up and do anything wrong. I’m paraphrasing.

If French internet users are caught downloading illegal content, they will receive warning letters telling them to stop, after which they can be fined up to 1500 euros and have their internet access blocked for a month, while persistent offenders can expect to have their connections cut off for longer periods.

Those pulled up will be able to contest the claims against them in court, but not knowing that their accounts were used for infringement by others will not be a valid defence. By implication, of course, this obliges French net users to apply password protection to any wifi connections, an obligation that arguably already exists in Germany as a result of a civil file-sharing court case.

As previously reported, Hadopi demonstrated just how vigilant rights holders need to be in the internet age earlier this year when it unveiled it’s logo in January. It turned out that the font employed in the logo had been used without permission. What’s more, it had been designed exclusively for telecommunications company France Telecom. Hadopi apologised and no legal action was taken against them. It was still funny, though.