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Almost 650,000 Internet users in France have been brought to order and 60 repeat offenders placed under investigation since Hadopi, the authority responsible for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet, was set up in January 2010.
Presenting its first 2010 activity report, the independent public authority defended the efficiency of its highly controversial graduated response system, underlining a change in consumer behaviour.
Pointing out that the graduated response system is now a reality, is working and has finally been accepted by Internet users in France, Hadopi’s president Marie-Françoise Marais insisted that as a result Internet users are now voluntarily turning instead towards legal services.
In accordance with the “three strikes process”, warning emails are initially dispatched to Internet users caught illegally downloading works protected by copyright, including films or songs. If Internet users who have already received a warning email once again come under the radar of TMG, the company mandated with supervising peer-to-peer networks on behalf of rights holders, they will then be sent a registered letter in addition to a further email.
The issuing of the letter signals the beginning of the penal phase as it will be included in the individual’s judiciary file in cases where the Internet user is summoned before a judge (third and final phase of the process).
Punishment includes a fine of EUR1,500 and the suspension of the individual's Internet account for a period of up to a month.
Tasked with implementing the response system, Mireille Imbert-Quaretta, president of the commission for the protection of rights, revealed that on average 4,000 initial recommendation emails are sent out each day by the body.
Alluding to the fact that the commission is currently in the third phase of the process, involving the possible submission of files to court, Hadopi president Marais reiterated that the mechanism is primarily designed to serve as a reminder of the law. However, if the Internet user then fails to act on the reminder, they are fully aware of the consequences, she added.
Noting that Hadopi also aims to encourage the development of legal online services, Marais acknowledged that much work remains to be done. According to Marais, next year the body will endeavour to find out how and why legal alternatives are struggling to meet public expectations.
This year, Hadopi has encouraged the labelling of sites offering legal content and now aims to swiftly set up a web portal referencing legal offers in order to increase their visibility.
France’s new anti-piracy law, which established Hadopi, entered into effect on January 1, 2010.
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