The effectiveness of graduated-response anti-piracy systems that have now been implemented in France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and the USA has always been debated, and new research from American and French researchers, based on a survey of 2,000 internet users in France, has found that the so called 2009 ‘three strikes’ system in France (the ‘Hadopi’ law) has not deterred individuals from engaging in digital piracy and the system does not reduce the intensity of illegal activity of those who did engage in piracy. The researchers from the University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the Université de Rennes I – Center for Research in Economics and Management also noted that for those internet users with closer links to the piracy community – a classification based on the piracy chat in said users’ social networks – the introduction of three-strikes in France, which targeted exclusively P2P file-sharing, pushed file-sharers down other routes to accessing unlicensed content. More than a third sampled —37.6 percent—admitted to illegal downloading, with 22 percent using P2P networks and 30 percent using “alternative channels.” About 16.4 percent of those who had engaged in the downloads received a warning from Hadopi, the government agency with the same name as the law it enforces.
The Researchers say “Consistent with theoretical predictions, our econometric results indicate that the Hadopi law has not deterred individuals from engaging in digital piracy and that it did not reduce the intensity of illegal activity of those who did engage in piracy” adding “While several factors affect the perceived probability of detection under the law, our results show that the propensity to engage in illegal file-sharing is independent of these beliefs.”
The results suggest that those who have more ‘pirates’ in their social networks switch to alternatives, such as direct download sites and newsgroups with the researchers saying “There is evidence that the law encourages Internet users who better understand the law and alternative piracy channels (those with many digital pirates in their social network) to substitute away from the monitored P2P channel and to obtain content through unmonitored illegal channels,” which conversely means that the three-strikes system is more likely to catch less prolific file-sharers.
That said, the authors cite another 2014 study which found that iTunes has seen a 20-25 percent increase in sales of French music just prior to implementation of the law. However, the authors attribute the increased sales to “public educational efforts,” not to the deterrent effect of the law.