French Assembly Passes Three-Strikes Piracy Law

The French parliament gave final approval Tuesday to a new version [Note: text in French] of a controversial Internet piracy law [Note text in French] that would suspend users’ Internet access after three violations. (Nicknamed the “HADOPI” law – HADOPI is the acronym for the government-run agency created by the law).  The bill was approved by a joint legislative committee of the National Assembly and the Senate by a vote of 258-131.

The new version, drafted after portions of it were rejected in June by the Constitutional Council, leaves discretion to suspend a user’s Internet services to a judge instead of an administrative authority.

This law basically criminalizes illegal file-sharing.  Those caught infringing copyright online could face the suspension of their Internet access, a fine or prison.  From what I can make out with my limited French, and news reports, Internet subscribers would also be held liable if someone else uses their Internet connection to illegally download copyright works.  That may include situations where a subscriber’s computer is attacked by malware and under someone else’s control, or their wireless Internet access was inadequately secured.

The law requires only the signature of President Nicolas Sarkozy to become official French law, although there are reports of another appeal to the Constitutional Council.  The opposition Socialists, who brought the challenge against the original bill, vowed to challenge the new version as well.

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