HADOPI Says It’s Ready to Enforce Three Strikes Law

It was September 24, 2009. France had adopted their three strikes law. While rights holders were happy that a European country has adopted a three strikes law, only today has HADOPI said it’s ready to enforce the three strikes law.

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

Just two days ago, we reported that HADOPI was launching a public consultation to figure out what exactly is classified as a secure connection (thus assisting in finding out who is guilty and who is not when it came to copyright infringement allegations)

Now today, HADOPI said that it is ready to begin enforcement of the three strikes law. 01Net is reporting (Google Translation) that not only is HADOPI beginning to enforce the new three strikes law, several industry’s now have the green light to begin collecting IP addresses:

Several companies have already obtained permission to collect IP addresses in the music industry (SACEM, SDRM, SPPF and SCPP) and film (ALPA). If they could already enter the PCD, it did not have permission to act. With the decree issued yesterday, is now the case. Nothing prevents the early warning emails from.

The decree can be found here (second from the bottom).

The Google translation of the decree says, “The High Authority is now in a state begin its work. it determine the appropriate time to send the mail early warnings to offenders, based on referrals received from the rights holders.”

The decree continued, “The graduated response mechanism implemented by the Highest authority opens a pedagogy of responsibility on Internet. The user who is guilty of acts of infringement on the Internet incurs heavy penalties. Intake fundamental flexible response is to provide a device alternative, less heavily punished, leaving its place to teaching and explanation”

In other words, they want to move people to authorized sources and those who do not will face heavy penalties. They are ready to hand out warning letters to those accused of copyright infringement. They also want to use the warning letters as a means of educating people as well.

Of course, there are huge problems with the system. First, an IP address does not directly link to a person to an act of copyright infringement. There’s no reliable way to actually reach individuals who are responsible for copyright infringement. Does that IP address serve internet to a single individual or to a whole household of people? Was that IP address linked to someone whose Wi-Fi was hacked? Is that file really what it says it is? These are but a handful of questions that really casts doubt that the right person would accurately be accused of copyright infringement in a three strikes system.

The other big problem with this system is that it’s guilt upon accusation and it’s up to the individual to prove their innocence. In a number of democratic societies, last I checked, even murderers are innocent until proven guilty.

Perhaps the real educational point will be how disastrous a three strike law really is in practice. How can a court system handle tens of thousands of court cases over copyright infringement over the internet? What kind of social impacts will there be when it gets to the point where everyone knows someone accused of copyright infringement whether guilty or not? Will people begin to wonder if tax dollars can be better spent on more important crime related issues or even economical issues for that matter? Were members of the French governing party, the UMP, right in expressing second thoughts on the law?

At this point, it’s almost a give-in that this law would be trouble. What remains to be seen is just how troublesome this law will really be in the end.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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