Hadopi and User Disconnections: Two Bugs Squashed, More Remain
III.-Les personnes coupables de la contravention définie au I peuvent, en outre, être condamnées à la peine complémentaire de suspension de l’accès à un service de communication au public en ligne pour une durée maximale d’un mois, conformément aux dispositions de l’article L. 335-7-1.
[Persons guilty of an infringement, as defined in section 1, may furthermore be sentenced to the additional punishment of the suspension of access to a service for communication to the public online for a maximum duration of one month, in conformity with the provisions of Article 335-7-1]
Décret n° 2010-695 du 25 juin 2010
Le III de l’article R. 335-5 du même code est abrogé.
[Section III of Article 335-5 of the same law is abrogated]
So goes the begining of the end of Hadopi. Having begun operation only in 2010, the abolition France’s newly minted institution for the application of ‘graduated response’ to acts of copyright infringement, was foretold in May this year. Closely associated with the persona of one Nicolas Sarkozy it was predictable that his successor Francois Hollande would jettison it.
The opportunity arose with the delivery of the Leclure report prepared by a committee operating under a former head of Canal+. Sections relating to this topics were but a small part of this mammoth document on the future of the media in France, but it provided the necessary ammunition for a government keen to pull the trigger.
The key argument the report made for a policy change was the failure of the Hadopi system to positively effect the take-up pf ‘legal offers.’ Over the last year sales of music in France have continued to fall, as have Video On Demand viewings, cinema ticket sales etc.
The authors made the case for the annulment of the ‘third strike’- disconnection for repeat offenders – and for a reduction of the fines for infringements. Thus disconnection was officially abolished in a decree published July 9th. Up until then only one person was actually disconnected – for two weeks – and this occurred in June after it became clear that the regime was to be abandoned!
But despite being on the brink of disappearance, Hadopi continues sending out mails castigating alleged infringers 92,000 more in July bringing them to a cumulative total of two million since inception. This figure encompasses only initial warnings. In addition, another two hundred thousand letters have been sent to repeat offenders, and seven hundred more escalated to the prosecutors. Not that many really, at least when compared with the larger number of threatening legal letters dispatched to theri peers in neighbouring Germany, demanding payment of up to 1,200 euros from each unfortunate recipient (with what level of success it remains unclear).
Another recommendation in the report that the fine for infringers be reduced from 1,500 euros to 60 was not implemented. However, in the sole case where a fine was imposed the amount came to 150 euros.
What remains of its competencies are to be passed on the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel). When this will actually happen remians unclear, so Hadopi limps on for now, on a reduced budget and likely low morale.
Aurélie Filippetti (the new Minister in charge) & Co. were understandably keen to distance themselves from the toxic Hadopi brand, but copyright enforcement initiatives are far from dead – they’ve just changed target. In January the head of the Rights Protection at Hadopi, Mireille Imbert-Quaretta, will deliver proposals regarding measures to target online streaming and direct download providers facilitating large scale infringement. Such sites will be required to filter uploadeds and weed out unathorised works. Failure to do so will result in blacklisting by ISPs. Intermediaries providing advertising placement and payment services for sites deemed rogue would also be targeted. And as La Quadrature Du Net pointed out in their press release at the time the overall Hadopi apparatus in France remains in place, so while the most egregious elements have been killed there is more to do.
Nonetheless this development represents another setback for the copyright industry campaign against user. In addition to France one can add Britain (delays in implementing the DEA), Germany (where the regulations concerning copyright abmahnung are due to be reformed) and the US (where the 6 strikes concrete application looks distinctly vague). So while there is no room for complacency, some modest celebration is in order.
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