France Passes Three Strikes Against File Sharing

PARIS – Bread, cheese and wine are fine, but don't think about file-sharing in France. The reintroduced "three strikes" HADOPI bill was approved Tuesday by the country's lower house and is now expected to be put into law by the Senate this week.

On a prior round through the government, a somewhat different version of the bill failed to pass, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his ruling party were determined to push it through this time. 

The new stringent law would cut off alleged copyright infringers from the Internet with no legal wrangling back allowed on their part, reports Britain's Guardian newspaper.

As stated in its prior incarnation, the legislation creates a new government agency, the High Authority of Diffusion of the Art Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet -- known as "HADOPI."

Internet rights activists have protested any versions of such a law, which would warn a suspected infringer with a first, then second message, then with a third violation, shut down Web access for anywhere from two to 12 months with no judicial appeal. 

The French law runs counter to the European Union Parliament, of which France is a member. The EU body has stated alleged file-sharers may not be cut off unless determined by a court, not just rights holders and a government organization.

Film, music and software companies in France want to see further legislation to clamp down on all forms of content piracy on the Internet.

As Billboard reports the French labels trade group Syndicat national de l'édition phonographique hailed the vote, while Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique said in statement, "This law was long-awaited by authors and is welcome progress after years of laisser-faire."

Opponents already plan to challenge the law in court.

Will the U.S. follow France's three strikes lead?  As observed by CNET, the Recording Industry Association of America has called on ISPs to join with rights groups in finding solutions. Some telecoms, such as AT&T, have reportedly taken part in graduated response programs, while others such as Verizon have refused.