France Makes Move to Ban Illegal Downloading

PARIS - France is leading the charge against illegal downloading with a controversial new law that will cut off Internet access for those who violate the "three strikes" scheme.


Effective January 2009, the law is a cross-industry agreement whereby Internet service providers will cut off access for third-time offenders. The law will be enforced by a new state agency called Hadopi.


As part of the agreement, the entertainment industry will drop existing copyright protection on French material, so music or videos legally bought online can be played on any device.


Critics of the plan include the state data-protection agency, consumer and civil liberties groups and the European Parliament. Big Web companies, including Google and the video-sharing site Dailymotion, refused to sign the 40-member industry agreement in November 2007.


Over the past two years, French courts have convicted 300 people for piracy, mostly professionals.