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France backs away from Hadopi

Anti-piracy group is ‘unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective’

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The French government is counting the cost of having copyright enforcement shifted from the corporate to the public sector – and it’s not pleased at what it sees.

Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down freetards under France’s three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and 99,000 registered letters. This seemingly-impressive pursuit of Internet evildoers has, however, resulted in a scant 134 cases being examined for prosecution – and so far, zero cases have been escalated to the point where an Internet user has been disconnected.

At a reported cost of 12 million Euros, which overs a payroll that inculdes 60 agents, the whole exercise has been described as “unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective” and a failure by the French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti. It would appear that the agency is now standing on the trap-door in the minister’s office, waiting for someone to pull the lever.

Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur (Google translation here) that Hadopi had also failed in a key part of its mission, to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads.

The French government has now launched a consultation to re-examine Internet piracy. In the Le Nouvel Observateur interview, Filippetti expressed a strong intention to cut Hadopi’s appropriations, and talked of a post-Hadopi future.

In a separate interview, Pierre Lescure – head of the commission into the “Future of Piracy” – has endorsed Filippetti’s stance, saying he attaches “great importance” to the development of legal offers, and that the temptations to piracy are so great only a priest would not yield.

“The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty”, he told Le Nouvel Observateur. “If one starts from the penalty, it will fail”, he said, adding that the sanction of disconnection is, for now, unenforceable. ®

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