updated 02:35 pm EDT, Tue May 12, 2009
France Approves 3-Strikes
The French National Assembly today approved a modified version of the three-strikes law meant to combat online piracy. Following an earlier rejection of an initial version, the government body voted 296-233 in favor of the bill, which would send two warnings to users caught allegedly trading illegally copied media and require that Internet providers disconnect users after a third offense.
A previous vote had seen many members abstain outright and spurred President Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the primary advocates of the bill, to rally support for today's vote. Members of Sarkozy's UMP party nonetheless voted against the bill, while some opposition was prompted in part by the controversial firing of an official at TV network TF1 after he voiced opposition to the measure.
While proponents have argued that such bills are necessary to make anti-piracy a serious issue in France, critics have accused Sarkozy of acting on behalf of media studios and music copyright organization IFPI rather than considering the public's viewpoint. They also argue that there are few measures to dispute false claims, that technology makes it difficult or impossible to enforce, and that few incentives have been given to seek out the legal alternatives.
Such laws have been promoted in other countries, though most have stopped short of enshrining three-strikes rules. The UK has been encouraging a voluntary approach while a few US Internet providers have struck secret deals with the RIAA that nonetheless stop short of disconnecting customers outright.