What is the word on the French Bill on Creation and the Internet?
The French Constitutional Council ruled on June 10th 2009 on the Bill on Creation and the Internet (Project de loi favorisant la diffusion et la protection de la creation sur Internet). The Bill contemplates the establishment of an administrative body (Haute Autorite pour la Diffusion de Oeuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet, “HADOPI”) which would have been granted the authority to track illegal Internet downloading. The HADOPI was to be given the authority to cut off Web access for repeat offenders – three strikes and an accused offender would have been had his Internet service suspended for up to a year.
Throughout the course of the World Copyright Summit conference in June 2009 in Washington DC, members of CISAC and its guest speakers the Bill’s three strikes provisions was seen as a leading example of how states, creators and rights holders can have some control against modern day pirates lurking in the online sea. A press release by CISAC referred to the Bill and its three strike provision as “a beacon of hope offered by the French in the continuing battle against the plague of Internet piracy”. The Constitutional Council however ruled that the HADOPI should only be allowed to issue warnings and that any decision to order ISPs to cut access to alleged offenders would need to be made by a court of competent jurisdiction. See: http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/francais/les-decisions/2009/decisions-par-date/2009/2009-580-dc/decision-n-2009-580-dc-du-10-juin-2009.42666.html
Has the removal of this power truly dimmed the beacon for those trying to control illegal downloads of copyright-protected materials? Or will the creation of HADOPI, even with its limited powers, launch a new assault against the pirates’ activities by providing a centralized and collaborative approach to identifying and curbing would-be pirates and curbing potentially illegal activity? If the legislative intent is to curb unauthorized downloads by individuals, notice by an administrative body may be a sufficient deterrent. If however the French legislators were seeking to control wholesale piracy then without the ability to impose significant sanctions, the HADOPI will have a very limited impact.
Thanks to Lisa Balaban, Lawyer and Negotiations Consultant, who provided the answer to this question.