First HADOPI Victim Convicted, Not For His Own Infringement, But Because His Wife Downloaded Songs

from the soon-to-be-ex-wife dept

Well, here's a nice contrast: just when a judge in the US has ruled that users there have no obligation to lock down their wifi connections, a court in France decides the exact opposite. What makes the story even more significant is that the individual concerned is the first person to be convicted under France's 3-strikes law, generally known as HADOPI.

Not all of the facts of the case have been released, but we do know that he received and apparently ignored the statutory three warnings from HADOPI, and then was summoned to court, where things started to get interesting. As TorrentFreak reports:

the man told the court today that he is incapable of downloading and did not commit the infringements. Supporting his claims he brought into court the person actually responsible for the file-sharing.
That person turned out to be his wife (actually, soon to be ex-wife), who admitted that she had downloaded some Rihanna songs. But as Guillaume Champeau of Numerama pointed out to TorrentFreak, ironically this did not get him off the hook -- on the contrary:
"By saying he knew she was downloading infringing content, but didn’t prevent her from doing so, he self-incriminated."
That's because under the HADOPI law, it is the owner of the Internet connection who is held responsible for any infringement committed with it, so it's the husband, not the (ex-)wife who has ended up being fined 150 euros (about $200) for negligence. That's admittedly less than the 300 euros ($400), with 150 euros suspended, that the French prosecution wanted, and far less than the maximum possible 1,500 euros ($2000) fine. But it's still a stiff price to pay for something he didn't do.

Indeed, he seems to have taken the judgment hard: Guillaume Champeau points out that HADOPI's first victim has now said that he intends to cancel his Internet subscription completely (original story in French). It's hard to see how this kind of result is going to help the growth of digital music in France, and the whole episode is a neat encapsulation of all that is wrong with HADOPI's approach.

Moreover, this case must reinforce the view that HADOPI is a colossal waste of money. In two years of existence, HADOPI has sent out 1.15 million first warnings, 102,854 second notices, and 340 "third strikes". And yet all French government has to show for the 12 million euros it costs to run HADOPI each year is the conviction of one innocent man.

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Filed Under: france, hadopi, indirect infringement, secondary infringement, three strikes, wifi

Reader Comments

The First Word

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  1. icon
    Rick Smith (profile), 13 Sep 2012 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your problem is that you are comparing apples to oranges.

    I think everyone agrees that the owner of the internet connection is responsible for the 'charges', as your analogy. But this was not a fully formed analogy.

    Where you fail is not realizing that an infringement is beyond the charges associated with using the phone (or internet connection) and therefore not the responsibility of the owner but the person which performs the action.

    Letís get the analogy framed in the proper context.

    Using your situation, you own a phone and someone (in your family) uses it to call a television station (out of your local area so you have your long distance charge) during a live telecast and make all kinds of slanderous statements against a politician. You should expect someone to show up at your door since you are the owner of the phone and the person of record that pays for the item, but should you also expect to be sued for it? You certainly did not make the call or say the false accusations.

    Or how about you own a car and you let neighbor borrow it. If they run a red light hit a pedestrian who dies but drives off (hit and run), would you expect to be convicted on murder charges while your neighbor is fined for running a red light (because they were caught by an intersection camera) just because you own the car? This is basically what happened with the wife being fined for negligence but the husband being convicted of infringement.

    I don't think any rational person would consider the phone or car own responsible in either case. So why should the owner of an internet connection be responsible for what someone else does, especially when they admit it in court.

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