Industry News

France Won’t Kick Pirates Offline – It’s Too Expensive

France will no longer disconnect users from the Internet as punishment for illegally downloading copyrighted online content as part of the anti-piracy law. It would cost too much.

Cutting off the Internet was the ultimate and third penalty step against those caught breaking the anti-piracy law. The French “three strikes” copyright law, or Hadopi, was set up to discourage the 65 million of France residents access and download movies and music illegally. Apparently Hadopi has been flooded with complaints and applying the law proved harder than anticipated.

“Getting rid of the cut-offs and those damned winged elephants is a good thing. They’re very costly,” representative of European Digital Rights, Joe McNamee, told Ars while the French Minister of Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin said that “piracy was emergency legislation (…) and that was also considered by the Constitutional Council as something a bit disproportionate.”

The system implies three steps: first a formal notification via e-mail, second is a notification both via e-mail and snail mail and the highest degreed penalty was to fine transgressors or have ISPs disconnect them from the Internet. This third step has however never been put into practice because of the high costs.

Since the deployment of the system, of the approximately one million warning e-mails only one French citizen reached the third stage and made to pay a €150 ($194) fine for an unsecured Internet connection.

“We’ll cut back on the Internet. Today it is not possible to cut off access to the Internet. This is something like cutting the water,” the French Minister of Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin told reporters at the high-technology complex in Sweden.

“We don’t want to prosecute people,” said the Hadopi spokesperson soon after the law was set up. “We just want to push people to change when, knowing it or not, they are committing piracy. So we’re trying to give people the time to understand what they are doing and to change before prosecuting them.”

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.

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  • i remember a time i used to record songs from my friends cassettes to mine using a double-cassette stereo player . there was no police on my back .