France Dumps Three Strikes Law

PARIS, France -- The upper house of the French government has shut down a bill passed last week by the lower house, which would implement a graduated response, "three strikes" policy toward Internet copyright infringement.

The legislation, referred to as "Hadopi" as an acronym for it's title in French, would require Internet Service Providers to monitor users and disconnect illegal file-sharers after two warnings, first by email and then by letter.

Infringers would be shut out for two to 12 months and also have to continue paying for service if they wanted to stay with the same ISP, a provision that irked many opponents of the law.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, the bill,  passed last week in the lower house of France's Senate by just a small portion of French politicians (only 10 percent), was rejected Thursday in another poorly-attended session of the upper house comprised of the National Assembly. The measure was rejected in a 21-15 vote.

"Alléluia ! C'est un miracle parlementaire! "("Hallelujah! It's a Parliamentary miracle!") said Socialist MP Christian Paul,reports French newspaper Liberation

The law as written would have also created a "High Authority" to oversee the claims of rights organization and also be empowered to collect information on alleged -- not proven -- infringers from their ISPs, then ordering the cut-off with a "third strike."

"It's a balanced bill for a legal and civilized Internet," said culture minister Christine Albanel who plans to have re-written, new legislation submitted at the end of this month.

The dismissal of the bill is a blow to rights organizations, such as the Recording Industry Association of America and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which both championed last week's three strikes passage, as did U2 manager Paul McGuinness in a commentary Tuesday in UK paper The Guardian.

"It is disappointing that the law was not confirmed today, but we understand that the French government will be resubmitting the law very shortly," said IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy in a statement, reports Billboard.

"President Sarkozy has been a true champion of intellectual property rights and the proposed law is an effective and proportionate way of tackling online copyright infringement and migrating users to the wide variety of legal music services in France."

Opponents of the bill include Internet freedom groups such as the Eletronic Frontier Foundation, La Quadrature du Net and various French socialists.