Political Hypocrisy: French President Sued for Copyright Infringement

It seems that every year, a high profile anti-piracy entity winds up being on the wrong end of a copyright violation – this year did not disappoint.

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

This may very well become the most ironic stories of 2009 in the copyright debate. The CBC is reporting that French governing party as led by president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sued by an independent band for copyright infringement.

The president and his administration has been well known for trying to ratchet up copyright laws not only in France, but throughout Europe as well. He has pressured and passed the first “three strikes” law that gets a user disconnected based on three formal copyright complaints. Arguably, the three strikes provision was born in France and has since spread throughout the world due to the major copyright industry trying to get other countries to adopt the laws. In fact, the French administration pressured the European union to adopt the three strikes policy, but the provision has since run into several roadblocks including representatives from Sweden who argued that people are dependent on the internet for cultural exchange.

The French president now seems to be hoping that the issue of copyright infringement would go away. He admitted to using the artists song multiple times for a political campaign which goes beyond the scope of an obtained license. So the administration offered to settle the case for a symbolic 1 Euro. The band rejected the offer calling it insulting.

This is, by far, not the first time a proponent to the so-called anti-piracy movement has been under the gun of copyright violations. Last year, Sony BMG France was sued for software piracy and had some of their assets on a property seized by mandated bailiffs. In 2007, BASCAP, an anti-piracy organization, recieved a cease and desist letter for, again, software piracy. Finally, in 2006, the MPAA was accused of pirating the film ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated’

It’s unclear how the this particular copyright infringement case will end, but many who are familiar with the copyright debate and how the three strikes provisions came about will no doubt be laughing at this latest fiasco.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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