French anti-piracy body issues first fine

16-09-2012

The French anti-piracy body that hunts down suspected Internet pirates on file-sharing networks has fined its first Internet user, nearly three years after it was formed.

Hadopi, which operates a three-strike system for copyright infringement, provided French prosecutors with the details of 14 alleged repeat offenders. A French court has now issued one of these individuals, a 40-year-old man, with a €150 ($196) fine.

According to local reports, the court punished the man despite his wife admitting that she had downloaded the music. This appears to be because he was the owner of the Internet account from which the files were downloaded. 

Since its formation in 2009, Hadopi has sent around 1.15 million emails (first warning) and 100,000 letters (second warning) to suspected Internet pirates. There are 340 people on a third warning—meaning Hadopi can choose to pass their cases to prosecutors, who can terminate their Internet accounts for a month or fine them €1,500 ($1,960). Courts are now examining the cases of 13 individuals following the newly-resolved case. 

The latest development comes amid increasing calls in the French government to scrap Hadopi. Culture minister Aurélie Filippetti recently said it is too expensive—costing around €12 million ($15.7 million)—and has not encouraged legal downloading. While the agency maintains that its role is more about educating people and not repressing them, one small fine in three years, following 1.5 million warnings, may not appease the critics within the government.

There is a consultation period underway that will decide how to revise Hadopi. It will hear from groups including the creative industry and consumers, and businessman Pierre Lescure, who is leading the consultation, expects to produce a report detailing recommendations by early 2013.

This article was first published on 17 September 2012 in World IP Review

online piracy, file-sharing, Hadopi, copyright infringement, music

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