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French National Assembly adopts revised HADOPI 2 anti-piracy bill

The French National Assembly yesterday adopted HADOPI 2, the amended version of the original ‘three-strikes’ bill which allows the imposition of punishments on those Internet users found to have made illegal downloads.

This reworked version of the bill named after the ‘Haute autorité pour la diffusion des oeuvres et la protection des droits de l'internet’ passed the Sénat in mid-July. HADOPI 2 was voted by a margin of 285 to 225.

It was originally proposed that this bill would allow for the HADOPI body itself to cut off people’s Internet access as a punishment, but the French Constitutional Council rejected this key provision, in June, ruling it unconstitutional. It said that "free access to public communication services online" was a human right that only a judge should have the power to disconnect.

Under the new law, HADOPI would merely issue two warnings – by email and then recorded delivery post. Details of repeat offenders would be passed to a judge, who would have a panoply of sanctions available including cutting web access of up to a year in a "streamlined" procedure, while Internet users who fail to keep their connections secure can also be punished if other people use those connections to exchange copyrighted material.

HADOPI 2 thus preserves an earlier attempt to outlaw the "open WiFi defense" under which an accused file-sharer simply makes clear that anyone could have used his connection.

Users punished will still have to keep paying their Internet subscription. Mobile Internet reception is also covered by the sanctions. In theory, mobile phone subscription (to an iPhone or Blackberry, for example) could be suspended if the handset is used for illegal downloading.

Subscribers to ’triple-play’ bundles (Internet, telephone, TV) should be able to continue accessing telephone and television services even if their broadband access has been cut. Some say this would require the implementation of technological developments which might delay the application of the new law.

Given that some details of HADOPI 2 were modified, the bill will be re-submitted to a commission made up in equal number of deputies and senators, which will finalise the text. This last version will then be put to a vote – in the Sénat on 21 September and at the National Assembly the day after.

Story filed 16.09.09

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