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France's Hadopi Submits First Case Load For Prosecution

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

20 February 2012


Hadopi, the French authority responsible for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet, has revealed that it has now sent the first batch of files of Internet users suspected of illegally downloading films and music protected by copyright law to the public prosecutors office.

The public prosecutors office will now decide whether or not to instigate legal proceedings against the repeat offenders. Punishment includes a fine of EUR1,500 (USD1,971) and the suspension of the individual’s Internet account for a period of up to a month.

In accordance with its graduated response system, or “three strikes process”, warning emails are initially dispatched to Internet users caught illegally downloading works protected by copyright. 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).

At the end of December, 822,014 Internet users had been brought to order for a first time, 68,343 had received a registered letter, and 165 repeat offenders had been placed under investigation, entering the penal phase. It is not known, however, how many cases Hadopi has elected to send to the public prosecutors office.

Fiercely championed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s anti-piracy law, which established Hadopi, entered into effect on January 1, 2010. The French President envisages a new law, currently dubbed “Hadopi 3”, to extend the fight against Internet piracy to online streaming.

Yet his fierce Socialist (PS) rival for the French Presidency, François Hollande, put forward the idea at the end of January of abolishing Hadopi, and replacing the body with a law providing for a tax on or contribution from stakeholders in the digital economy to fund artistic creation.

According to Hollande, the proposed system would serve to support artists in France, by promoting legal Internet offers, and by ensuring that Internet stakeholders contribute.

Defending his proposal, Hollande underscored that the country’s current anti-piracy or Hadopi law has, since the outset, been the subject of controversy, confrontation and opposition. Hollande stressed the importance of striking a balance between the protection of copyright, and providing opportunities for individuals to access culture via Internet platforms.

Under Hollande’s outline proposal, Internet service providers (ISPs), equipment manufacturers and Internet users would be required to contribute. If successful in his election campaign, Hollande aims to draw up proposals for a concrete new law in collaboration with industry stakeholders.

TAGS: individuals | tax | artists | law | copyright | France

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