New French law could warn, disconnect file sharers


— 11:14 AM on November 26, 2007

As the RIAA and MPAA lobby for the U.S. government to cut federal aid to students in universities without anti-file sharing systems in place, the French government has unveiled an altogether simpler plan to get all citizens to cut down on illegal file sharing. As the Financial Times reports, a new agreement struck between the government, music and movie makers, and Internet service providers in France may result in the implementation of a "three-strike" system whereby persistent pirates could see their Internet access cut.

The agreement would require ISPs to implement a filtering system in order to detect illegal file sharing among their high-volume users. Rather than being sued or facing fines and jail time, users found pirating content would be warned, and repeat offenders could see their Internet access suspended or terminated if they ignored "as few as two warnings." Those users would subsequently be placed on a "black list" overseen by a new enforcement body.

As an upside for users, the agreement proposes to make French content available without digital rights management protection and to reduce DVD release times from an average of  7.5 months to six months. However, the agreement hasn't been received well by consumers and some politicians. Consumer association UFC-Que Choisir says the plans are "very harsh, potentially repressive, anti-economic and against the grain of the digital age," while two deputies from the ruling UMP party believe the proposal "creates a truly exceptional jurisdiction for downloaders contravening the principle of equality before the law."

France's parliament is due to vote on the proposal "as soon as spring 2008," according to the Financial Times. (Thanks to TR reader Jim for the tip.)

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