France rejects anti-piracy law

Sarkozy wants G20 to agree to fight online piracy

The last step before the approval of the controversial Création et Internet law, which foresees the creation of the High Authority Hadopi, was taken today in France and the result could not be more bitter for the administration of Nicolas Sarkozy. The final vote for the adoption of the new legislation took place in the National Assembly and resulted in 15 votes in favor against 21 negative.

The majority of the deputies of the Assembly refused the project and the absence of several representatives conditioned the result. This is because two deputies from the Sarkozy band voted alongside the left forces, boycotting the long-awaited law.

Throughout the process, the most controversial article was the one that refers to the system of three alerts to people who break the law when carrying out downloads illegal. After these three warnings, Internet connections end up being cut for a period of time that can vary between a month and a year and the offenders are prevented from signing a new contract with another ISP.

This fact caused controversy since the law holds holders of connections with the IP address from which the download occurred and not the user who downloaded it. In other words, the victim of the Internet cut could be a commercial establishment or a person responsible for a public access space and not necessarily a private consumer.

In addition to this factor, there is uncertainty about the responsibility to pay the invoice, that is, whether the offenders who see their calls cut will be forced, or not, to pay the monthly fee for their subscriptions. There was no consensus from the discussion and the Government opted for the application of monthly fees during the period of penance, which is why the two deputies from Sarkozy’s party decided to vote against the law.

On the part of the operators, the complaints were felt mainly with regard to the costs that the new law would bring. Orange alone estimated to spend more than 10 million euros annually on the adaptation of infrastructures that the law requires. To this value would be added those estimated by the remaining operators and the total value would amount to 70 million euros per year – 20 million according to the Government – which, according to ISPs accounts and divided by the number of French Internet users, corresponds to more two euros per head.

The responsible for the operator Free, Xavier Niel, said in September last year that, if the law went ahead, the process of identifying and verifying each IP address would cost approximately 13 euros and that, for each notification not sent or suspension not applied the ISPs would have to pay a fine of five thousand euros.

Consumers, on the other hand, contested the law, stating that, when the Internet connection is cut, they are being denied a fundamental right. This was, in fact, one of the most heard and used expressions during the process of discussing the law, both by citizens and by the opposition. According to them, the rule rejected today does not consider Internet access as one of the basic rights of citizens and a factor in combating the digital divide.

The French case has been one of the most complicated to manage in Europe given the controversy in which it is involved and the opposition it raises to the Brussels councils. However, it is not the only one.

In Sweden, a rule approved last summer has just come into force and provides for the registration of all personal data and browsing history of Internet users. The aim is to create a database so that the cultural industry can have evidence to report violators.

In the first 24 hours after the law came into force, Swedes boycotted access and traffic online decreased by 33 percent, a relevant figure considering that Sweden is the leading navigation country in Europe.

The national press reports that the limitations imposed by the law are already being reflected in the anonymous online browsing services, increasingly sought after by Internet users, and that more than 100 thousand users are registered in the Pirate Bay Virtual Virtual Network, IPREDator, which for five euros a month it maintains the anonymity of the «pirates».

Another European case is that of Ireland, where behavior against intellectual property is also penalized. In January, Eircom, the operator with the largest number of subscribers, reached an agreement to work with audiovisual companies. The aim is simple: «end Internet abuse by copyright infringers in P2P,» said IRMA, an organization that groups Irish publishers, in a statement.

Under this agreement, the operator will give the IP of the offenders to the record industry and start a gradual process that will lead to the application of the system of the three notices – similar to the French one. The industry has already warned that it maintains contacts with other operators in the country to implement similar standards.

Patricia Barreiros