French Government Hands Out HADOPI Pamphlets to Motorists

It’s very difficult to say HADOPI is a sound solution to copyright infringement, but it’s also even more difficult to argue that it will somehow magically be enforceable. In an effort to get the word out on how HADOPI works, it appears as though the French government has resorted to an offline campaign to thwart an online activity.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

One of the major criticisms of HADOPI was that putting the law and a governing body together and enforcing the law was very poorly handled in France. Critics of HADOPI argue that the way HADOPI was handled was a very clear sign of the “incompetence” of the French government.

Earlier this month, we looked in to how expensive the three strikes system really was. After some number crunching from stats by the government and French ISPs, we were able to determine that the three strikes law would cost around 50 million Euro’s or about 64 million US dollars per year. That’s a far cry from the RIAAs 17 Million dollar litigation campaign. It was issues like this that sparked outrage over just how much this campaign is really potentially costing tax payers (ISPs and the government were last seen negotiating who foots those bills, though it’s not hard to assume that whoever foots the bills, the cost will somehow get passed down to consumers anyway). If critics were hoping newer developments will save money, they will be sorely disappointed.

According to 01Net (Google translation), the government, over the weekend, was handing out leaflets as part of an information campaign to raise awareness of HADOPI. The report says that around 260,000 leaflets will be handed out to people returning from vacation back in to their country at toll booths. One might wonder if the last thing people want when returning from vacation is a reminder that the government trying to enforce a technologically unsound law, but that’s clearly up to the French to decide. The handing out of pamphlets will continue on this weekend as well.

The pamphlets are suppose to warn people that if they do not properly secure their Wi-Fi connections, they’ll face legal repercussions for negligence. So what legally constitutes a secure Wi-Fi connection? Last we heard, the French government really doesn’t know and had to launch a public consultation last month to figure that out. One of the proposals appears to be government mandated spyware, but as we discussed, there’s nothing that guarantee’s honesty from the end user in such a system. For all we know, the spyware could be heavily modified to give a false signal that the connection is secure.

To make matters worse, hacking people’s secured Wi-Fi connections have been getting easier and easier. Back in May, we pointed out that packages are being distributed in China that makes Wi-Fi hacking a breeze. Not hard to imagine that such systems have been improved since our report. The question then becomes, how is the French government going to figure out who was negligent? Will it be arbitrary decision making?

Another part of the pamphlet describes the consequences of getting caught. People face fines of up to 1,500 Euro’s and possible disconnection on the third strike.

By handing out these pamphlets, the French government hopes to reach the whole family and not just the user. Presumably, the scenario the government is trying to bi-pass is the kid of the family downloading doing all the downloading with the parents not having a clue. Good thing the government thought of targeting vacationers through these pamphlets because clearly older generations wouldn’t dream of doing things like watching TV or reading a newspaper.

What’s sad in all of this is that so many people who are in to downloading know just how technologically flawed these laws really are. The only people that will actually be targeted are those on the most open networks available today where IP addresses can be recorded – however shoddy such evidence really is. Meanwhile, downloading from things like one-click hosters, UseNet and private sites (not to mention using streaming services) will more than likely avoid trouble for the end user. No new innovation is required to circumvent these laws and that isn’t even touching the issue of Wi-Fi hacking. It’s now just a matter of changing your source for content.

For a model rights groups says is the ideal solution for file-sharing for other countries, this solution really is turning out to be quite a gongshow.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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