France Plans Government Agency To Boot File Sharers Offline

from the we're-from-the-gov't,-and-we're-here-to-kick-you-offline dept

While the EU Parliament has warned about the civil rights violation represented by any "three strikes" laws that would kick file sharers offline after three accusations (not convictions) of file sharing, France has continued to move forward with just such a law. Michael Scott points us to the news that France is close to finalizing its legislation on the topic, which has one major difference from other "three strikes" laws: rather than the ISPs acting as the copyright police, it will be a new French government agency that will do the dirty work.

Yes, the law will propose an entirely new French bureaucracy, which would act as the intermediary between copyright holders and ISPs. If a copyright holder believes that someone is infringing on copyrights, it would send the info to the agency, who would investigate, get info from the ISP, and (if the agency believed infringement occurred) send out a threat letter to the individuals responsible. That agency would also have the ability to demand that an ISP cut a user off for repeat offenses. What's never explained is why any of this extra-judicial process is needed. Isn't there already a court of law in France that would allow a copyright holder to accuse an alleged infringer in court, where that alleged infringer could mount a defense to show that he or she was not guilty of infringement?

Furthermore, it's unclear why the government should be involved at all -- especially with the growing evidence out there that the "problem" of copyright infringement is simply a business model issue. Those who have put in place smart business models don't seem to have any problems at all with infringement. So why not just point those who are clinging to an obsolete business model to examples of those who have succeeded by embracing file sharing, and tell them it's time to adapt?

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  1. icon
    Aaron deOliveira (profile), 23 Feb 2009 @ 5:37pm

    customers

    One of the interesting unintended consequences of booting people offline is that it is shrinking the market for everyone. A number of different scenarios come to mind.

    I spend money online on all kinds of different things. Books, movies, gadgets, plane tickets, gifts, vacations, etc. Pretty much across the consumer spectrum. If I'm booted off purely because of "piracy", this has a direct effect of curtailing all of my current and possibly future online spending. Suddenly I can't make purchases at any online retailer. Nor am I available to make use of Monster.com, or CareerBuilder or DICE, etc. The entire spectrum of my online consumption is wiped out over this one issue.

    The other unintended consequence is that if pirates are undeserved customers, you're shrinking the market for your own product and every other musician out there, even the ones that want their work shared.

    It seems like a really interesting unintended consequence to this whole idea.

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