Legislation was passed in France's senate that could sever the Internet connections of individuals who repeatedly download music and films illegally, which, in effect, may create the first government agency to track and punish individuals for online piracy.
The bill known as "Création et Internet" or "HADOPI" passed in the lower house 296 to 233 Tuesday, and in the senate 189 to 14 Wednesday, according to reports from the Associated Press, France 24 and other international media outlets. The bill calls upon Internet service providers to give customers two warnings that they are accused of infringing copyright before they cut off their Internet access for up to a year, charging them throughout this period.
The success of this bill, according to the AP, is a show of force by President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing conservatives after an initial failure last month, however, the new legislation is far from becoming law with the bill directly defying an EU measure passed last week prohibiting member governments from cut Internet connections before passing through a court of law.
Internet freedom activist group La Quadrature du Net (www.laquadrature.net) has stated that HADOPI "opposes [the] fundamental principles of French and European law, including the respect of a fair trial, principle of proportionality and separation of powers."
La Quadrature du Net co-founder Jérémie Zimmermann said that HADOPI could have helped refocus the debate on inventing new schemes for funding media industries, while still valuing the importance of civil liberties in the digital age. "Artists and authors, including those who once were used by the government and the decaying industries' lobbyists, now have to team up with their public to move along."
National recording industry association Disque en France (www.disqueenfrance.com) expressed its pleasure with the government's decision, thanking the professionals, artists and other creators that have worked for the past eighteen months to establish a set of rules for Internet access to music and video works.
France's hard stance on Internet piracy follows similar actions by European governments, such as the copyright convictions of four individuals responsible for the file-sharing website the Pirate Bay (www.thepiratebay.org). Going above the heads of tracker owners, music industry lobby group IFPI (www.ifpi.org) took the opportunity to contact Swedish torrent site hosts directly in an effort to shutdown some customers.
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