France Passes Anti-Piracy 'Three Strikes' Law

PARIS, France -- The French government passed a "three strikes" law Thursday against Internet violators who file-share and download or upload copyrighted material.

According to the bill, known as "Hadopi"  -- as it proposes a "High Authority for the Diffusion of Oeuvres and the Protection of Rights on the Internet" -- a new government agency, Haute Autorité (High Authority), will be established to monitor and investigate file-sharing complaints made by copyright holders.

If the agency rules that infringement occurred, it will send out a warning letter to the Internet service account holder, also suggesting they check if their connection -- especially via WiFi -- is secure as hijacked service will not be a defense. A second letter will follow if there's another offense within a year. And if there's a third, the government body can order the Internet Service Provider to cut off access.

The new agency will also have wide berth with regard to who gets cut off and for how long. However, businesses will get a pass if the offender is an employee, a move that may not pass muster with the French consitution, just as the EU Parliament ruled that approach violates established civil and privacy laws.

The Register reports the vote in the French National Assembly was severely under-attended; the hall was near-empty, except for a small number of politicians representing parties left, right and center.

Internet freedom group La Quadrature du Net called passage of the bill "blind corporatism" reports United Press International. Spokesman Jeremie Zimmermann told the EU Observer the vote was "a symbol of the technological ignorance of a government."

TechDirt notes that perhaps the oddest part of the law is the "Hallyday Clause", named for senior citizen French rocker Johnny Hallyday, a tax-dodging expatriate in Switzerland since 2006.  The portion of the bill that uses his name says that downloading copyrighted material of those sheltered from taxes by living outside France or not properly paying taxes will bring a  lesser punishment than downloading artists who fulfill tax obligations.