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France Passes Tough New Law Against Internet Piracy

| 16 Sep 2009 14:14
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France is getting tough on file sharing, passing a new "three strikes" law that will give judges the power to cut off internet access and impose other penalties on illegal downloaders.

Under the terms of the new law, people caught illegally downloading files will receive a warning by email on their first offense, followed by a warning sent through registered mail on the second. On the third offense, the user's details will be sent to a judge, who will have the power to cut off internet access and impose hefty fines or even jail terms.

In a bit of an odd twist, it's the third time the French government has attempted to pass a law of this kind. The first attempt was rejected by the French parliament, while the second was passed but ran up against the French high court, which ruled that giving sole discretion to cut off internet access to the agency that will monitor web piracy violated the "fundamental human right" of internet access. The new regulations are expected to take effect by the end of the year.

Unsurprisingly, the law has the backing of the movie and music industries, which claim the theft of copyrighted entertainment is costing them "millions of pounds" every year. Pop singer Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is also said to be a "major backer" of the new legislation.

But not everything thinks it's a good idea. The French Socialist Party called it "repressive" and pointed out that it will do nothing to actually compensate artists for their work, while the newspaper Le Monde said it will create an "internet Big Brother" that will snare more innocent people than real pirates, who have the technical skills to evade detection. Laurent Bedoue, head of the French Magistrates Union, went even further, suggesting that the law would be essentially unenforceable on any kind of meaningful scale because the country's legal system would be "paralyzed" if every suspected pirate was taken to court.

"With an estimated 180,000 cases a year, there is no way each one could be taken to court anyway without the most vast expense," he said. "The government should have seen this coming."

Source: Mail Online

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