France ends three strikes Internet ban on piracy offenders

When France announced its three strikes policy back in 2008, a rule that would revoke Internet access from those with three Internet piracy offenses, the country suddenly became a much more unfriendly place for netizens. Apparently, those rules proved to be just as overreaching and heavy handed to the French as first assumed, because the country has announced an end to the policy effective immediately.

The original law, known as HADOPI, suspended an Internet user's access to the Internet for a month and slapped them with fines (which still apply) of up to $2,000 if they were detected downloading illegal materials three times in a row. According to the BBC, since the enactment of the policy, 1.6 million first warnings where sent, as well as 139,000 second warnings. But of the large number of alleged offenders, only 29 cases found their way to the French court system. And, amazingly, only one offender actually had their Internet access suspended.

Despite the local outcry against the law in France, internationally the rule seemed to foreshadow a possible new Internet era in which other countries might adopt the same kind of system and cast a shadow of authoritarian control over the mostly freewheeling Web. In fact, earlier this year, the U.S. saw the introduction of the Copyright Alert System, a six strikes warning system, supported by AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon, designed to curb Internet piracy.

Under that rule, after a series of warnings, offenders risk having their Internet access speed reduced or even suspended. It's unclear whether or not France's decision to abandon its three strikes rule will influence other western countries, but the shift does offer some hope that efficacy and institution of such measures may turn out be short-lived.


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