French count the cost of Hadopi

September 2012



Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down repeat infringers under France’s three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and 99,000 registered letters although just 134 cases have been examined for prosecution and no cases have as yet resulted in an Internet user being disconnected. Hadopi has a payroll of over 60 and annual costs have now reached a reported 12 million Euros,  prompting French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti to describe the system as “unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective”. Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur that Hadopi had also failed in a key part of its mission, to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads prompting the French government to  launch a consultation to re-examine it’s response Internet piracy with Filippetti talking of a post-Hadopi future.

In a separate interview, Pierre Lescure, head of the commission into the “Future of Piracy” and a former boss at Canal+, 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” saying “The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty”, telling Le Nouvel Observateur. “If one starts from the penalty, it will fail”, adding that the sanction of disconnection is, for now, unenforceable.

The French system had been heralded as a success by many in the content industries who pointed to a reduction in online piracy and illegal downloading of music and films – although a January 2011 poll in France indicated that 49% of French Internet users continue to illegally download music and video.  The obvious reluctance of the Minister and the commission head to support Hadopi is a glum reminder for supporters of the three strikes provisions in the UK’s Digital Economy Act –  even if implemented in the UK it seems a  three strikes scheme might be an expensive industry funded failure.

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