FEATURE/NEWS: New French internet piracy laws – a model for the rest of the world?

Source article and recommended reading: BBC News.

So this is France’s attempt at stopping internet piracy. I think, for the most part it is relatively a big step forward. Caught once: a warning. Caught twice: a letter. Caught three times: court with possible fines and the cutting of access to the internet (temporarily).

But, personally, I think this could be a good step to take by other countries on an international level.

It will most likely have the affect of stopping bodies like the RIAA and other like-minded groups of people from unfairly targetting individuals. I think that the way in which those types of groups have sued individuals for millions of dollars, for small amounts of songs, that the individuals have only been using for their own enjoyment, is wrong. With this legislation, at least individuals will be warned and will have a chance to avoid these charges.

That said though, it will be difficult to implement. There will always be people out there ahead of the curve who will be able to get around the system.

According to TorrentFreak:

In addition it is now possible to take “any action” in order to put a halt to copyright infringement. For example, websites can be blocked without having to provide hard evidence that they are engaging in illegal activities.

THIS, however, is one of the downsides to this seemingly good idea. If this kind of lax attitude is taken to the blocking of websites, it’s likely that that kind of lax attitude will be applied to the accusations of piracy against individuals. Accusations need to be managed with strict guidelines and rules about providing evidence, in order to ensue that the accusations are in fact correct.

Also; according to the TorrentFreak article, ISP’s are the ones required to warn their users about their piracy. I don’t think this is a good idea. In reality, it would be fair for ISP’s to co-operate with the relevant authorities in accordance with this legislation, but to give them the work of dealing out warnings and investigating piracy? It isn’t going to be nearly as effective as it could be. And getting ISP’s to block web-sites where piracy may occur? They won’t be terribly popular with their users if they begin doing that will they, which is exactly why it’s unlikely to work.

I think, for this to work, HADOPI (the acronym for the government organisation created to deal with this law) need to be handing out fair and substantial warnings (which means they have definite evidence that the user is indeed a sailor of the seven internets) independently of the ISP’s (which themselves are unlikely to completely comply with the laws anyway, instead preferring to turn a blind eye to the piracy in order to maintain their user-base).

If that can happen, then I think it will be a big step forward in terms of acting against internet piracy, instead of the unfair and inefficient scare-mongering of bodies like the RIAA. Let the RIAA deal with the people illegally downloading material and selling it on for a profit.

Unfortunately, I think that even if this does happen and is implemented fairly, downloading will still continue somehow. Though, perhaps in the long run, our society will develop to the point where file-sharing exists on a level where everyone can access music, bands are living off increased gig-merch profits, and through this type of system, the really good bands rise to the top and are popular, as opposed to the commercially driven images that seem to pass for musicians these days. That is one benefit of file-sharing. It has the power to take influence away from big record labels, and allow musicians that are good enough to make it on their own rise up and get the recognition they deserve through word of mouth, which is a factor many wrongfully dismiss as useless in music these days.

Don’t take that as meaning there will be no sales from the music itself either. I know plenty of people that, if they download an album they really enjoy, will go out and buy it. Which is one of the defining, I believe, aspects of people who are really into music, appreciate the work that goes into it, and want to support musicians.