updated 03:20 pm EDT, Tue September 22, 2009
French 3-strike law passes
The French National Assembly today passed its controversial anti-piracy law by a ratio of 258 for and 131 against. Locally referred to as Hadopi, the measure will give users allegedly caught pirating media two warnings followed by punishment from a judge that could include either a ban on Internet access, fines as high as 300,000 Euros ($443,500) or up to a two-year prison term. Those who unintentionally allow others to use their connection for piracy, such as by running an insecure Wi-Fi hotspot, could face a temporary one-month ban or else as much as a 1,500 Euro ($2,218) fine.
The system won't give those accused full access to the court system but should still give them a 'fast track' system that still lets them defend themselves. An initially proposed system would have handed all control of the punishment to a non-legal authority and was rejected as unconstitutional earlier this year, forcing a modification to accommodate basic legal rights.
Critics still maintain that the system is skewed heavily in favor of the accusing music labels and movie studios, which can disrupt a user without definitive proof that links a particular person to an Internet connection. They have also argued the bill represents a violation of piracy by encouraging media organizations to scan users' Internet traffic without their consent and that it ignores the increasing nature of Internet access as an important utility.
A law of the sort is already in effect in Sweden, but similar laws have faced stiff resistance in the UK from artists and legislators worried that the punishment is excessive and that it creates a very negative view of the music and movie industries.