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Waning appeal of piracy in France possibly linked to HADOPI crackdown

Two years after the HADOPI agency started to crack down on digital piracy in France, with the threat of cutting off the Internet access of repeat offenders, research shows that the appeal of piracy is beginning to wane in the country. Since the law went into effect, digital sales are growing.

Opponent to HADOPI measures - and generally rivals of President Nicolas Sarkozy who championed it - want to repeal or amend the French law, building on the momentum from a successful campaign to defeat two bills in Washington aimed at curbing piracy (SOPA, PIPA), as well as the protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

According to an interview with the New York Times, Eric Walter, the secretary-general of HADOPI, said the relatively low number of third-stage offenders showed that the system had succeeded.

Academics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggests that HADOPI has given a lift to legal downloads via the Apple iTunes music store.

"Since spring 2009, when the debate over the measure was raging, through mid-2011, iTunes sales rose much more strongly in France than in other European countries. While there is no proof that HADOPI was responsible, the study says the case for a link was bolstered by the fact that sales of musical genres that suffer from high levels of piracy, like hip-hop, rose much more than sales of low-piracy genres, like Christian and classical music," says the New York Times article.

The researchers calculated that HADOPI resulted in an extra €13.8 million a year worth of iTunes music sales in France.

HADOPI has had to issue warnings notices against fake emails impersonating the anti-piracy agency that sought account verification details such as password and other sensitive information for the purpose of phishing.

Story filed 26.02.12

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