Judges Given 5 Minutes to Rule On Each Third Strike in France

It seemed like there would be some form of judicial oversight after the three strikes law in France would have to go through a judge, but now there’s a new twist in the infamous HADOPI law. It appears that, on average, judges will be given 5 minutes to decide whether or not to disconnect and possibly fine an individual accused of breaching copyright laws a third time.

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

So what can you do in five minutes? Order pizza. Walk up and down a shorter street. Flip through all the channels on your TV and conclude there’s nothing to watch. Read through this article. Now, you can add, if you’re a French citizen, have your internet connection cut off by a judge. There’s a new version of the HADOPI, or, three strikes law, out and it seems details are emerging on just how the government plans to deal with alleged file-sharers while still having their day in court.

According to Futurezone (Google translation), in order for the 50,000 cases to be had each year specifically geared toward enforcing the three strikes law, the French judicial system will hire 109 new employees, including 26 more judges. Each case is suppose to take about 45 minutes of work, but each judge will be given only 5 minutes to handle each case on average.

Futurezone notes that the European Union did essentially prevent the three strikes law from passing in any country within the union, and, indeed, there were even legal threats from at least one member of the European Union if France were to enforce their three strikes law.

“We’ll have to wait and see whether French politicians are still eager to support the bill with this price tag attached. France wouldn’t be the first country to drop Three Strikes because it’s simply too expensive.” Janko Roettgers commented on p2p-blog, “British regulators estimated earlier this year that implementing Three Strikes would cost about 2.5 million GBP per year. The UK government eventually abandoned the idea of Three Strikes and is now favoring solutions that would require less oversight.”

This isn’t the only thing happening in Britain of course. Users in Britain are also stepping forward and saying that they are being sued for copyright infringement of material they have never even heard of before. This does raise the question of the validity of targeting someone via IP address in the first place. There are some resemblances to the French three strikes law promising to prosecute 50,000 users and the Dream Pinball case that has recently resurfaced. A large number of users are being targeted for copyright infringement while there hasn’t been much discussion on what happens if someone is wrongly accused. Of course, when it comes to the three strikes law, there’s plenty of criticisms against the law to go around from when the bill was proposed to when it was passed to now. Not the copyright industry minds because they’re getting what they want and a playing card to use when they pressure other countries to adopt similar anti-file-sharing laws.

“The Pirate Party opposes and condemns the contents of this new bill,” The French Pirate Party said on their website (Google translation), “which is once again a few special interests at the expense of the general interest of citizens.”

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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