Wikileaks: MPAA, RIAA and BSA Lobbied for HADOPI

Wikileaks has been releasing plenty of new details on how the US views the world. Amongst the interesting tidbits of information buried inside Cablegate was what role the MPAA, the RIAA and the BSA has in France’s new HADOPI law.

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

HADOPI has had a long and winding road, but it seems new details have surfaced as a result of Wikileaks Cablegate story. In one cable [reference ID 09PARIS559 ], US diplomats described the defeat of the bill back in early 2009 a “theater-of-the absurd
parliamentary maneuver”

It turns out, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) were very concerned about the bill. US diplomats said, “U.S. industry continues to watch the bill closely. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
President Robert Pisano told the Charge on March 20 that the graduated response law is “very important” to the fight against online piracy, and to MPAA. The Recording Industry of America has expressed similar sentiments.”

The BSA (Business Software Alliance) also had a stake in the bill, but expressed concern with article 15. The cable describes, “That article, which industry has contested since its
inception, requires firms to provide source code of software that includes technical protection measures to the French authorities. Originally introduced as an amendment from the National Assembly floor, the measure was designed to address spyware concerns (reportedly in the wake of the 2005 Sony rootkit scandal in which Sony had sold CDs in the United States with copyright protection measures that installed onto users’ PCs and enabled remote monitoring). Article 15 has neither been enforced nor the subject of implementing regulations since the
Copyright Law was passed.”

What’s interesting in all of this is that the industry had such influence in the passage of HADOPI considering that the United States doesn’t have a “three strikes” law of its own. It confirms that the US industry is trying to use France as a petri dish for anti-piracy laws so draconian, it couldn’t even be implemented in their own country.

What’s also interesting is the number being projected: “Culture Minister Albanel has
told the National Assembly Cultural Affairs Committee that, under a worst-case scenario, the HADOPI would be sending out up to 10,000 letters a day. If the same user is caught a third time, his or her Internet connection will be suspended for up to one year.”

It’s interesting that the 10,000 letters does exist, but is only a worst case scenario. This is slightly higher than an earlier number which pegged the number as 13,000 letters per day. In spite of the lower number, HADOPI “will have a 90 million euro budget to contact, warn, suspend and deny Internet access” which is far lower than our previous number of 45 million euros. This means that this legislation is far less efficient than previously thought.

According to Le Monde (Google translated):

The Embassy also worked in constant contact with major industry associations American show business, including the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and RIA (Recording Industry Association). The vote of the web laws was for them a “very important priority”, especially since it could serve as an example for other European countries.

What’s absurd in all of this is the fact that US industry is directly influencing policy making abroad. It’s particularly disturbing because it has been shown that a three strikes law implemented anywhere is even a national security risk because the intelligence community knows full well that a crackdown of this nature will make it much more difficult for spies to go after people who are considered a threat in the first place. I think that Americans would be very upset if a corporation from abroad came to the United States and started pushing to have certain laws passed that probably wouldn’t benefit the United States. At the same token, I think French citizens would have every right to be upset if foreign corporate entities started meddling in their affairs as well.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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