French culture minister critical of three-strikes

By | Published on Wednesday 8 August 2012


France’s new culture minister and the former Canal+ boss she has commissioned to review piracy have both criticised Hadopi, the country’s three-strikes style anti-piracy programme, made law in 2009.

The Hadopi department has been prolific in sending out the warning letters that play a key role in the three-strikes approach to deterring web users for accessing content via unlicensed file-sharing networks, with over a million warning e-mails and 99,000 physical letters sent so far.

Of those targeted, 134 are currently being investigated as possible contenders for strike three, which in theory would see those who carry on file-sharing despite warnings having their net connections cut by a court order. However, no disconnections have as yet happened, and it’s seemed for a while that if strike three was ever struck, actually the sanction would likely be less severe.

But now the future of Hadopi is in doubt, somewhat, after new French culture chief Aurélie Filippetti said, according to The Register, that trios-strikes was “unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective”. Filippetti seems most concerned about the cost to government of running three-strikes, but also said that the content industries had not yet done enough to fulfil their side of the bargain – making more attractive legal digital content services available.

Meanwhile Pierre Lescure, appointed by Filippetti to review piracy laws in France, said in a separate interview: “The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty. If one starts from the penalty, it will fail”.

Although some are now predicting the demise of Hadopi altogether, what seems more likely is that the anti-piracy unit’s budgets will be cut, and that strike three – should it occur – will be a lot less severe than originally planned.

French political types going lukewarm on three-strikes could be a blow for the content industries in the UK who are still trying to get the British variation of the system – introduced by the 2010 Digital Economy Act – live. Some in the music and movie industries here have pointed to the success of Hadopi in cutting piracy in France as justification for getting three-strikes moving over here. But Filippetti does not seem to be so positive in her conclusion of the effectiveness of the trios-strikes programme.