Le Piratage en France – From Liberty to Tyranny

I’ve been closely following the anti-piracy drive thats going on in a number of countries around the world after the trial against the cocky Piratebay owners. In many places around the world the “bad-guys” in the discussion – the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America) and other bodeis like them have succeeded in bringing stricter (bordering on draconian) laws.

One such country is France. In the spring of 2009 a Creation and Internet Bill was put to vote and after a month of haggling and obvious lobbying, it was made a law. The law was nicknamed the HADOPI law – after the organization which it set up. The supporters of the bill claimed that it was godsend for the high number of artists in France. But there were a number of very troubling clauses in the law.

The most scary clause in the bill, and one which the pro copyright groups were lobbying for, was giving the watchdog body the right to cut the internet connection of users accused of copyright infringement. Thankfully, the Constitutional Council of France saw it as against the basic principle of the presumption of innocence (which is a human right) and struck the clause out of the bill.

In its current form the bill gives an infringer 3 chances after which his internet connection is suspended for a period of upto 1 year during which he will still have to pay the bills. I think it is the strictest law of its kind anywhere in the world, though the removal of the ‘accused’ clause has made it quite blunt.

Yesterday I came across this article in the Ars Technica where they’ve checked out some of the studies on internet piracy after the law came into effect.I wasn’t surprised by the findings.

The number of pirates has only increased since the law was passed, though it is not yet enforced. The number of pirates moving to online media which isn’t covered by Hadopi has gone up as the P2P piracy has reduced ever so slightly. The studies also looked at the breakup of which media were being used by the pirates and that made for interesting reading as well.

The law cannot cover YouTube, music streaming sites and direct download sites like Rapidshare – and so the number of users of those media have gone up.

Pirates will always be pirates. Unless the watchdog bodies can come up with an alternative which is as convenient, easy, inclusive and free as downloading a movie you want to watch within a couple of hours – Piracy is here to stay.

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