FRANCE

Anti download law: 'the idea of disconnecting web users is unimaginable today'

While it's considered "inappropriate" and "suppressive" by web users, a French internet piracy law is being hailed as a saviour for bruised CD producers. The proposed "creation and internet" law, which would allow the state to block web access to illegal downloaders, will be decided on by the French Assemblée today. Read more...

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French web users are calling for a blackout on their sites, blogs and profiles in response to the new law. This image was published on Flickr by "Bricefwi".

While it's considered "inappropriate" and "suppressive" by web users, a French internet piracy law is being hailed as a saviour for bruised CD producers. The proposed "creation and internet" law, which would allow the state to block web access to illegal downloaders, will be decided on by the French Assemblée today.

CD sales have halved in the past five years according to the music industry, which blames the drop almost entirely on illegal downloads. And so does French culture minister Christine Albanel, who proposed the law in order to defend authors' rights from online piracy. Almost the entire senate voted in agreement to the law last October.

A first offense wouldn't see your internet connection disappear, but for persistent offenders, that's the eventual punishment. The "gradual response" system will be carried out by administrative body HADOPI, set up especially for the job.

Web users are mobilising through various movements across the net, one of which, "La quadrature du Net", is calling for online action against the law, which they say is a infringing on liberties. For support in parliament, they're counting on socialist members, who say that the law would enforce the "general policing of web users". There are also some in the majority party who say that a fine would be more effective than cutting web access.

Read also: our post on the Pirate Bay file-sharing case.

"You'll see your ADSL line.... cut!"

Posted on Dailymotion by  "dedecavacouper".

This sketch is part of a web users' campaign against the law. Dédé is an anal watchman dedicated to stopping the "band of little pirates" from downloading. "And as my grandmother used to say, ‘action, reaction!'"

"Just as people manage to drive at 130 mph despite the speed limit..."

Vincent Frèrebeau runs a production company and is president of the union of independent French CD makers.  

For a long time we have been waiting for something that protects authors' rights. To say that the bill is suppressive is absolutely not true. If suspicious activity is noticed, then HADOPI, which is comprised of judges, is made aware of it - and they are responsible for the confidentiality of data.

If copyright is forgotten, how will musicians, investors, material etc be funded? Shall we decide that just because of the digital revolution, we shouldn't pay anyone anymore? All for the comfort of the web user?

People download illegally because for now, it's easy and not very risky. Therefore the law should be a dissuasive factor. Obviously people are going to find a way round it, just as people manage to drive at 130mph on the motorway despite the speed limit. But not everyone spends all day trying to find ways of downloading.

Today, we're standing up for our trade against citizen groups who are on their part trying (and quite successfully) to get support from major service providers. On the other hand, there are only nine people working in my company! We feel strongly about this; we feel that we're defending an entire section of French culture."

"The idea of disconnecting web users is unimaginable today"

Aziz Ridouan founded an association of file-sharers, "Association des audionatues",

This project talks about regulating new technology, but what's new? We've been able to download files for 11 years now. Napster was in 1998!

The idea of disconnecting web users is unimaginable today. It would be a triple punishment as the cut would see your TV and phone connections gone too. It would also block someone's social involvement. They're forgetting that computers aren't only used for downloading. We use them to apply to university, ask for a scholarship and work from home. 

The bill focuses on peer-to-peer file sharing, while there are already loads of other ways like streaming and private, encrypted P2P. It's already obsolete. Pirating is a worldwide problem. It's not a French law that's going to put a stop to it.  

That said, the project will go forward because it's been ordered from the top [Sarkozy came up with the initiative]. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Like always, we'll find a way round it."