French pirate-hunting agency dead, nobody mourns

Readers will remember former French president Sarkozy's brilliant bureaucratic wheeze to clamp down on Internet piracy. It was to establish an impressive-sounding agency (Hadopi) which would hunt down illegal downloaders and deal with them through a graduated response. Nice letter warning them off to start then, if that failed a couple of times, the miscreant would be disconnected or fined.

It didn't work because it couldn't work (as we pointed out at the time). The only result was that some of those pirating content moved away from peer-to-peer networks, such as BitTorrent, and adopted other methods of which there are plenty - including (especially since the advent of the smartphone) side-loading content without using the network at all.

Result? Expensive agency and no reduction in content piracy or boost for France's content industries.


The "what to do now?" was released this week in the form of a 400 page report by a committee lead by former Canal Plus chairman, Pierre Lescure. Lescure came in with the answer the French government wanted: ditch the agency and hand its powers over to the French broadcasting watchdog (which probably wouldn't do anything energetic with them), end the disconnection penalty and reduce the fine for repeat offenses to around €60.

Everybody happy? Not quite. The content industries (global and local), already downcast and surly due to the failure of ACTA, the copyright treaty, to get past the European Parliament last year, have been thrown a bone in the form of a suggested new 1 per cent tax on Internet-connected devices, a policy we predicted might be introduced last year (see - Has Hadopi had it now that Hollande is here?).

See today's story - L'attaque est la meilleure défence. France proposes a smartphones tax.

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