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France says 'Oui!' to three strikes for music pirates

Stern letters in the post

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French politicians have handed the international music and video industries a victory against online media pirates with legislation to punish offenders.

The bill, backed by pro-business president Nicolas Sarkozy, slipped comfortably through the National Assembly with a 296-to-233 margin. It's set for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill will carve into French law the much discussed "three strikes" warn-then-disconnect policy that the Assembly had rejected only last month.

Under the three-strikes law, a new government agency will first send media pirates an email warning. If the piracy persists, a more stern letter will be sent. If that doesn't stop the illegal file-sharing, the government will have the power to cut off the pirate's internet access for one year.

This Gallic experiment is sure to attract global attention, as governments and media moguls in the UK, the US, and elsewhere have been wrangling about a three-strikes policy for some time.

It's not just illegal file-sharers who will be unhappy with the French action. As some observers have pointed out, the wrong people could readily be struck thrice should hackers take over their PCs and use them for remote malfeasance.

International music and video provider are understandably merry. John Kennedy, chairman of the music industry's 1,400-member anti-piracy group, the IFPI, told the BBC the bill is "an effective and proportionate way of tackling online copyright infringement and migrating users to the wide variety of legal music services in France."

And, of course, migrating more than a few euros back into the industry's pockets. ®

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