updated 02:30 pm EDT, Wed June 10, 2009
France Downs 3-Strike Law
France's Constitutional Council today ruled against the country's recently approved three-strike law. The Council rejected the measure on constitutional grounds and says that the law, known as Création et Internet, violated the Declaration of 1789, which insists that all are innocent until proven guilty. Measures in the new law would automatically disconnect users on the third accusation of illegal file sharing and put the burden on customers to prove their own innocence.
Officials also challenged the CeI bill on its creation of a separate oversight branch known as the High Authority that was effectively given judicial authority. As the Authority could not only warn an Internet user of an alleged violation but force them offline, it would overstep its bounds, according to the Council.
In making the decision, the court associated with the Council added that the bill as a whole attacked freedom of speech as it would prevent users from communicating readily with each other. The French ruling also said any attempts to curb that freedom had to be proportionate to the actual offense, which the Council didn't believe was the case with the new law. In many cases customers would still have to pay for Internet service they could no longer use.
France's outcome potentially has world significance as it destroys the CeI law as a precedent for other countries that had been contemplating or near invoking similar laws. Many believe the bill was prompted by French president Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni as a way to enforce copyright on her music and others, but accusations have also been leveled against the IFPI and other pro-label organizations for allegedly pushing governments towards legislating their views on piracy regardless of constitutionality or policies on safe harbor.
Critics of the now-defeated French law have warned not only that it presumed guilt but that it encouraged invasions of privacy by monitoring Internet traffic regardless of whether or not it's illegal or relevant. [via Ars Technica]