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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:25pm

    Liberté, venalité, fraternité?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    cybearDJM (profile), 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:27pm

    Lobbying in France re: 3 strikes

    Well, you ask why ? Should I answer "lobbying" ? (Most of) the majors have been lobbying for months (years ?), since the new government/presidency started, to get this "law" on tracks... As (most of) the government's staff can't understand what the "digital world" is, what a (smart vs obsolete) business model is... they just keep on believing that what they've been told is plain truth...
    Poor France... :-(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    SteveD, 23 Feb 2009 @ 4:43pm

    It will be interesting to see if this gets challenged by the French Judiciary or EU Court of Civil Rights. Perhaps Sarkozy will be able to force it through regardless.

    But we've already seen plenty of examples of the sort of false-positives a system like this will throw up. What happens when families start to get their connections cut off for someone else's piracy? Will the government end up paying out compensation to cover up such failings?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2009 @ 5:27pm

    Nous nous rendons

    (We Surrender)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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


    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, 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    yogi, 23 Feb 2009 @ 8:48pm

    Hard to believe

    I find it hard to believe that one miserable but powerful industry will be able to render the internet useless for the entire planet.

    But seeing that Western democracies (france, NZ, Australia, U.S., Britain) are the first to volunteer to rape their people n the name of the recording industry, than probably I am wrong or maybe I just misunderstand the meaning of the word "Democracy". It probably means "Fuck you" in ancient greek...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2009 @ 12:36am

    You can judge a country by the one that rules it: in this case a midget.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    sebsauvage, 24 Feb 2009 @ 12:53am

    It's even WORSE than that.

    It's even WORSE than that:
    • You will have to continue to pay your ISP even when cut off the internet.
    • In case of wrong accusation, you will get no refund.
    • Don't think about changing ISP: there will be a national file which all ISP will use.
    • They also have proposed the installation of "security verification software" (think:spyware) which would be "approved" by the governement in order to prove you did nothing wrong.
    • The users would have to pay for this crapware.
    • ...which has no obligation to run on something else than Windows.

    Oh... BTW, the ministry of culture has proposed a "white list" of websites for all public access points. And the president (Nicolas Sarkozy) wants a governement-driven blacklist to block child pornography sites.

    Sad. Very sad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    R. Miles, 24 Feb 2009 @ 4:03am

    France needs another invasion.

    This time, by the people. This country's history is filled with civil uproar when monarchy/government tries to inhibit human civilities.

    What the hell is wrong with the French, who seem to be waning away instead of fighting?

    Maybe if they'd quit modeling their businesses after the US, they'd be more open to understanding new business models, not retaining dead ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    sebsauvage, 24 Feb 2009 @ 5:46am

    Re: France needs another invasion.

    In fact, French people are quite aware of all this. But the governement still buys big business talks, and fails to understand the economics of the internet.

    As a matter of fact, except for a few clever people, the french governement always had hard times understanding the internet. Thay have been pushing horrible law after law: LSQ, LCEN, DADVSI...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    bikey (profile), 24 Feb 2009 @ 6:46am


    Maybe we should just find Mr. S. a new wife - a pirate wife!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    bikey (profile), 24 Feb 2009 @ 6:46am


    Maybe we should just find Mr. S. a new wife - a pirate wife!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Fuchsia, 26 Feb 2009 @ 4:29am


    There is no such thing as an EU Court of Civil Rights – only the European Court of Justice, indeed an EU institution, and the European Court of Human Rights, established by the Council of Europe (i.e. a completely different international organisation).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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