updated 10:25 am EST, Fri March 12, 2010
French Hadopi law simply forced pirates elsewhere
France's three strikes anti-piracy law has actually increased the amount of piracy in the country, a new study has revealed. Despite the threat of being permanently disconnected from the Internet in the country, frequent downloaders increased their activity 3 percent since the law, also known as Hadopi, passed last fall. While BitTorrent use did drop from 17.1 percent to 14.6 percent, any who gave up torrents simply moved to streams or to private hosts using uploaders, which are difficult if not impossible to track with current methods.
The same University of Rennes examination also found that half of all self-proclaimed pirates also buy legitimate content online, hinting that companies may actually lose money through the law by either fining or disconnecting Internet subscribers, preventing them from buying tracks.
Proponents of the law have yet to respond to the study. They have argued that pirates need a major deterrence such as the permanent loss of home Internet access to steer them to legitimate methods. Critics have contended that Internet use is increasingly a necessity, not a luxury, and that the French law only pays a minimal respect to offering the accused a proper legal defense.
The study compounds a week of blows to major media firms as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was staunchly opposed by the European Parliament, which voted almost unanimously against the current process of negotiating the treaty. The EU body insisted that the deliberately secretive talks around ACTA be made public, including underrepresented developing countries, and require that any Internet cutoff include a court examination.
ACTA is believed to be a collaboration between music and movie studios with multiple governments and would take most of its inspiration from Hadopi. If agreed, it would encourage three-strike laws and potentially jeopardize the safe harbor principles of Internet providers by making them responsible for any piracy on their networks.