They've been talking
about it for a while, now they've gone and done it: French legislators have passed a three-strikes file-sharing law
. The plan is essentially the same as the one discussed before: a new government agency will be set up to to investigate file-sharing complaints made by copyright holders. If it believes there's been infringement, it will send out a first letter to the ISP account holder, warning them and recommending they make sure their WiFi is secure; a second offense within six months will generate a second letter, and if they're busted within a year of that notice, the agency can cut them off from the internet for anywhere from a month to a year. The agency has a lot of discretion on who to cut off and for how long, as apparently legislators didn't want to see businesses get cut off from the internet because of the actions of a few employees. That level of discretion is raising some eyebrows, while some speculate that cutting people off at all runs counter to the French constitution (just as the EU Parliament has said the laws violate
civil and privacy laws).
One interesting aspect of the law, though, is the so-called "Hallyday Clause", named after aging French rocker Johnny Hallyday
. Hallyday is a very popular and successful French musician, and he moved to Switzerland in 2006 to escape high French taxes. The part of the three-strikes bill with his name on it says that downloading copyrighted material of people who live in tax havens, or otherwise don't "properly" pay their taxes to the French government, will attract a lesser punishment than downloading the material of artists who pay up. It's a slightly amusing "gotcha" idea, but when the actual monetary losses from illegal downloads are pretty minimal
at best, it doesn't seem too likely to lure tax-dodging rock stars out of their havens and back into France.