French ISPs and French Government Locking Horns Over HADOPI Costs

There’s a major battle brewing between the French government and the French ISPs. A line is being drawn and it’s about the money. While this was foreseeable thanks to our earlier reports, it will be very interesting to see how far the battle will escalate. One report suggests that ISPs may even opt to not honor their end of the anti-piracy effort.

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

HADOPI, the three strikes law in France, may have been passed nearly a year ago, the war is far from over and it could very well be one of the several smaller battles that could be the downfall of the law.

Earlier this month, we learned that a battle was brewing between French ISPs and the government. The issue that has caused a thick line in the sand between the two? Compensation of ISPs. In our earlier report, the French government wanted to just let ISPs receive an invoice of the cost to enforce the three strikes law – and yes, it is very expensive to do thousands of IP look-ups per month thanks to things like labor. After doing some research, we discovered that the cost of the three strikes law would be around 50 million Euros per year which translates to about 64 million US dollars. All this evidence to come up with the figure was based on government statements and legal documents.

This is why the negotiations are huge and the stakes are so high. How much of the costs should ISPs absorb? Do ISPs expect compensation on a per IP look-up basis or do they absorb that cost for a period of time and send an invoice to the government, hoping to receive reimbursement after? A lot of hot questions indeed.

Now, according to PC Impact, things may be getting testy as this dispute goes much more public (Google translation).

From the report:

At the press conference introducing the company’s financial results, Maxime Lombardini retracted Hadopi. The CEO of Iliad, recalled that four of the major operators have written to the Ministry of Culture to remember the principle of reimbursement would have to pay the ISP for the implementation of Hadopi including the identification of IP. “Nobody disputes that, then there is a little game of ping-pong between Internet Piracy and the Ministry of Culture, I think this will be resolved. For our part, in any case, it is a prerequisite for the implementation

In other words, compensate us first and then we’ll play ball with this new law. No money, no enforcement.

Maxime Lombardini but could not quantify the amount of Hadopi for the group, while Christine Albanel estimated cost of the law to Orange to an amount “infinitesimal”. So, to make the figures, you must know the volume, pace, yet we are not able to give a figure. A study had raised 70 million euros, it is very far from that. ”

This seems like a rather vague statement. Did he mean that the number is much higher or lower? He is definitely right though, the total cost of enforcing HADOPI depends entirely on two things: The number of IP look-ups required and how much each look-up costs. When we calculated the total cost of 50 Million euro’s, our formula was identical:

A X B = C

Where A is the number of look-ups, B is the total cost per look-up and C is the total cost of enforcement for an increment of time. If you are missing either A or B, you cannot calculate C.

It’s unclear where he got the 70 million euro figure since this was not what we calculated, but if the government is firm on its promise of the total number of disconnections it made back in 2009, then the number won’t be too far off give or take a few million.

The report seems to suggest that if the government just decides that ISPs should foot a good chunk of the total bill for enforcement, then ISPs have an ace up their sleeves:

The law does not provide HADOPI financial chapter, but it requires the ISP that meets the demands for identification. As a result, ISPs are preparing for a showdown: do not implement the requests for identification and see what happens. If the folder part in litigation, they hide behind the constitutional jurisprudence which provides support for state costs related to foreign missions of telecom players.

So it sounds like that if ISPs are unhappy with the compensation provided by the French government, they are willing to go to court on constitutional grounds – and it would be obvious that it would be quite a showdown in court if one were to pit the nations ISPs against the government.

Earlier, we noted that ACTA might be completed sometime this month. If three strikes were to be covertly put back in to ACTA after all that has happened, it would be quite an embarrassing first step out of the gates if the three strikes law failed in France just months after the finalized draft was released.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: