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Internet cutoff dropped from France's 'three-strike' graduated response

The French government has issued a decree removing the threat of suspending the Internet access of those users caught illegally downloading copyrighted content. This sanction was the ultimate weapon that could be used under the so-called 'three-strike' graduated response by the anti-piracy Hadopi agency against recalcitrant offenders who had not responded to the first two warning letters.

Communication and Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti announced this change of policy, which had been recommended in the Lescure Report published in May (read article). This is a relaxing of the 'three-strike' policy, not its abrogation. Instead of the threat of internet cut-off and the accompanying heavy fine, the 'third' strike will impose a flexible, more affordable administrative fine, and possibly more often.

The heavy-duty judicial weaponry should be reserved to those users drawing a commercial benefit from illegal downloading, not those who are not seeking financial gain.

The Lescure Report suggested that threatening 'non profit-making' (non marchand) users with the full force of judicial procedures weakens the primary purpose of the policy - pedagogy - the strengthening of which the report called for.

The administration of three-strike policy should be transferred from Hadopi - to be abolished - to the domestic media regulator, Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA).

The 15-day suspension of Internet service imposed by a court last month could well be the first and last such punishment inflicted on a recidivist offender.

It is not yet known how many of the 80 recommendations of the 478-page report will be implemented.

Story filed 11.07.13

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