Home / News / Portable Audio News / French Pass '3 Strikes' Piracy Disconnection Bill

French Pass '3 Strikes' Piracy Disconnection Bill

Gordon Kelly


French Pass '3 Strikes' Piracy Disconnection Bill

There's something wonderful about the French: they genuinely don't care what anyone else thinks. The problem is when they get things horribly wrong, the same rule still applies...

Just like their bizarre decision to keep floundering obsessive astrology sign player picker Raymond Domenech in charge of the national football team against all possible logic so the French government has pushed on with its insane 3 strikes antipiracy rule - and got the bill passed.

In a nutshell 3 Strikes plans to penalise illegal downloaders (and by association their entire families/partners/flat mates) by cutting off their Internet access should they be caught downloading copyright content on three separate occasions. This madness had been sensibly rejected by the National Assembly last month but this week the administration took a crazy pill and saw it pass by 296 votes to 233. It will now be put to the Senate for final approval.

Typically the ruling comes just two months after the European Union overwhelmingly voted against such a move by 481 to 25 votes. "While ensuring that the Internet is more secure is a legitimate goal for our societies, we must monitor and restrict the use of surveillance and control techniques that threaten our freedoms, especially in cases which question its necessity, proportionality and effectiveness," stated the report at the time.

Naturally then John Kennedy, chairman of global music industry representative body the IFPI called the French bill "effective and proportionate" and for such silliness gives up the right to feature any more in this article.

Still, if France wishes to push ahead with a bill that not only disadvantages those who download copyright content but also anyone who lives with them then so be it. After all I'm sure it considered how such a move would affect a potentially convicted downloader's child if they have an online school project, for example. I'm also sure it has considered how easily the wireless signals of innocent households can be hacked for nefarious use and how impossible that would be to prove. Even repeat offenders can easily purchase 3G dongles and just keep on going.

No, ultimately copyright infringement comes down to mass public dissatisfaction with existing distribution methods employed by the entertainment industry. That's something the industry has to address and Spotify is a good start, but quite what business it is of a national government I have no idea whatsoever...


via BBC News


May 13, 2009, 7:33 am

So exactly what should the punishment be for people who obtain illegal media through the Internet?


May 13, 2009, 7:44 am

but quite what business it is of a national government I have no idea whatsoever...

any loss of income = loss of tax...governments love tax. It also means loss of jobs at French-equivalent of HMV which also means loss of tax.


May 13, 2009, 8:34 am

@Ohmz - Quite simply, none. What is the point? It would have to fine/disconnect hundreds of millions of people - this simply isn't feasible.

It is up to the music and movie industries to come up with a better distribution method for their product. They are hugely fortunate that people will always desire their product so they will forever have a captive market called THE PLANET. Consequently, it is up to them to work out a way to tap into it responsibly.


May 13, 2009, 8:45 am

@Ohmz - PS it's also important to make a further point: it is impossible to tell which users download copyright content to trial it before purchase, though studies suggest it to be a significant number. Remember only the UK has open access to something like Spotify which even then remains largely unknown.

As a result, if what these trial-before-buy users are doing is a lesser crime, but one that cannot be distinguished, then all blanket prosecutions fall down.

The music industry needs to see those who download copyright material not as criminals to go after, but as a vast yet untapped market. The industry made record profits last year, just think how successful they could be if they can create a model that appeals to this huge segment. It's an exciting prospect with great incentive and one with far more potential financial gain than suing soccer moms for their children's actions.


May 13, 2009, 11:45 am

What about the loss of revenue ISPs will have to take after disconnecting millions of people?

Music industry is just crying foul because suddenly their executives are seeing their millionaire status at threat. Yeah they ripped people off for years by promoting crappy music, talentless performers and not to mention shitty re-worked compilations and trying to sell them for a premium.

Common people are just fighting back. You get what you give.

Martin Wainika

May 13, 2009, 12:45 pm

Something has to be done about this, what the answer is i don't know.

If i stole a cd from a record shop i would expect to be punished (caught on cctv etc), if i download an album of a torrent site i won't get punished because nobody can prove it was me.

@Gordon - your argument about a child not being able to complete a school report because a parent is illegally downloading is wrong. If a parent does anything wrong the child is affected, if they stole a cd or several cd's from a record store they would expect to be fined or go to prison (if excessive) and the child would be affected by this. It's called responsible parenting


May 13, 2009, 12:54 pm

I'm assuming that by 'caught' we're not talking about a nice safe legal conviction, rather a direct accusation by the copyright owner based on some extremely tenuous evidence that they provide? In which case, can we all have our own private legal enforcement? Bagsy the DVLA...


May 13, 2009, 2:05 pm

@ Martin Wainika

The difference is that someone has paid for the physical media for that CD, for the shopkeepers wages, for the rent/electricity/water supply of the store. In a torrent there is no cost to the original producer, in fact their costs have probably already been met as the original purchase was probably a CD or some such. All the bandwidth costs, costs of maintaining the torrent are shouldered by the users so no argument can be made for lost profit.

The other lie the music industry is hurling around is that 1 pirate download = 1 lost sale, they've said it in court and the utter stupidity of this sentence makes me want to go hit them with a large fish. On top of that decent studies have shown that pirates are in fact more likely to buy music legitimately then others and that they regularly purchase more. (Other studies have shown that pirates buy nothing and that the industry loses billions of pounds to piracy but these are all exclusively funded by the RIAA, most if not all non-bias studies find the opposite is true).

I say keep on pirating, the music/video industry has a dying business model on their hands and they do not wish to admit it because then their talentless CEO's might have to retire to their mansions and have to make do with 4 full time staff. These industries have repeatedly ignored the rights of consumers and used their legal clout to put it into law more often then not, and they even screw over the artists they claim to be protecting as barely anything from CD sales ever makes it into the artists pocket (As shown by the new US lobby group of artists that actually demands the opposite of the RIAA, while the RIAA continues to claim it wants to protect the artists).


May 13, 2009, 2:25 pm

@Gnormie: I'm a bit confused by your argument there. You claim that by downloading a CD that someone else has already bought "no argument can be made for lost profit". But if Bob buys a CD and I download it off him instead of BUYING said CD, then the record label has lost out on one sale. Mine.

Hypothetically speaking if Bob brought one CD and everyone in the world downloaded it off him, the record label would only have the profit of that one CD and would have lost billions of potential profit because no one else brought it, which I believe is what the record labels' argument is: Loss of potential sales.


May 13, 2009, 2:37 pm

It always makes me laugh reading about peoples opinions on this subject. Here's my various counters and other additions to the discussion.

1. Yes the French ruling is stupid but ONLY for the reason that it is infeasible. In principle there's nothing wrong with it. Fundamentally you are breaking the law, no matter which way you spin it.

2. While a lot of people do use illegal downloads as a try before you buy service, just as many people don't. There is a whole generation of children that have grown up thinking of music downloads as the norm. Quite simply, unless you have a vested interest, most people will get something for free if its just as easy as buying it.

3. The idea that the music industry is wholly horribly corrupt and screws over the artist is such a misnomer. By all means, yes, record labels suck up a lot of the revenue made by album sales and the like and they can put undue strain on artists to pump out albums more regularly than they feel comfortable with (and, yes, some of them are just sods). However, there's two things to consider. If the artist had been sensible when signing their contract they should have seen potential pitfalls in keeping up with album demand etc. Also, the label has to risk significant amounts of up front money when signing new bands. With only so many bands ever hitting the big time these costs have to be offset. Not to mention worldwide promotion and distribution is very costly. Yes, you can do the whole thing on your own but most people simply don't have the expertise or resources and the process is much slower.


May 13, 2009, 2:40 pm

@TheEvilGenius: I think the point Gnormie is making is that if Bob's friends hadn't been able to get the music for free off him, they simply wouldn't have bothered at all. Thus there's no actual lost sale. It's an argument that holds a lot of weight but still doesn't really excuse it.


May 13, 2009, 2:59 pm

@ Ed

I'm not saying it excuses it, it just makes the line that much more indistinguishable.

I realize my last post may have made me out to be quite a bit of a pirate. Which I freely admit, however I would like to clarify that position. I'm not a pirate at heart, I now listen to music on my computer exclusively from Spotify and am happy to listen to any ads they throw my way because that's how they're making their money, and most of the music on my S9 is music ripped from legitimately bought CD's (though not all). I also no longer download TV shows made available by the BBC/Channel 4/Channel 5 as there's no need to because most of the time it's available on the VOD services for free and I'm usually even willing to pay the small fees of 4OD to watch movies as it's quicker then downloading them. I also buy a lot of DVD's (there's at least 150+ under my TV), and I usually spend a lot of time ripping these DVD's to my PC so I can watch them on the go (I DO NOT want to carry around a CD case of 10+ movies/TV series just to keep me entertained over a few weeks in scotland). I have never uploaded a torrent, and that is something I will probably never do. However in the eyes of the industry I am a pirate, because I broke the encryption on my DVD's so I could watch them later without having to carry around any unneeded baggage of a CD case. I still download a bit of music, because I like to listen to music on the go and thus far spotify doesn't offer that and I don't have an unlimited amount of spare cash to throw towards CD's (though I still buy a lot more then any of my more 'moral' non-pirate friends). I also download quite a few US TV shows, such as Grey's Anatomy/Scrubs/House because although they're available in the UK, we are several series behind and there's no way to legitimately watch these shows without paying through the nose, and since Hulu is locked to the UK without a proxy bit torrent is my last option.

I'm not a pirate at heart, I'm willing to put up with advertisements, pay for DVD's/CD's when I have the money to spare and actively encourage friends who pirate to turn to services like Spotify. I'm a pirate because the media I want to watch hasn't been made available for a fair price, and the media I do legitimately own, I'm restricted in how I use it, something which you don't get with pirate copies. The industry is hurting legitimate consumers by trying to defeat the pirates, now excuse me while I go watch episode 24 of season 5 of house that I just downloaded, because it isn't available in the UK and probably won't be aired by Channel 5 for 6 months +


May 13, 2009, 3:10 pm

Can someone explain to me just how it is possible for the French to be allowed to pass this law?

My understanding is that the Eu have voted against this meaning that if France does actually implement this they will be against Eu law and they will be able to appeal to the Eu who will overturn the decision and/or fine france?

So how are they even able to go about this?


May 13, 2009, 3:39 pm

Aren't they missing the boat a little ? Studys have shown that people (generally) want to stay on the right side of the law. They'd rather pay for a legal, assured quality download than a dodgy, illegal torrent. The only reason that downloading gained momentum is that the music companies first of all did not want it, then tried to use it to control our usage and milk us for more money with DRM.

Now that we have lots of excellent DRM-free sites, they are growing faster than torrents. Sure, students and others will download for free, but that just replaces taping off the radio that we all did before (yes, I am that old).

The film industry is facing the same issue and the answer is the same, make material available at reasonable cost, DRM-free, quickly and easily and people will flock to buy it.

Lastly, the issue I have with all of this is the punishment must be proportional, if you steal a £7.99 album, your punishment should be the same as if you stole a physical CD, not huge fines, prison or Internet disconnection.


May 13, 2009, 4:06 pm

@ scotw - The difference is, when you steal a CD from a store you are tried and punished under criminal law, hence the fines are less but there is a chance of a prison sentence. Any action taken against you my music/movie/video game companies or associations is a civil claim, hence fines are generally much larger, but if found guilty there is no chance of a prison sentence or aquiring a criminal record.


May 13, 2009, 4:16 pm

I heard the argument about 'piracy' put to me in an interesting way the other day.

Unlike traditional piracy there is no holding people hostage, unlike traditional theft there is no physical removal of material. Essentially downloading copyright material is like having found a way not to take a car from a showroom but to have discovered a way to perfectly clone it from the other side of the street and drive off.

Again, there are simply far, far, far too many people who download copyright material for even 0.1% of them to be caught. They must be seen as a gigantic untapped revenue sector and new and innovative distribution models discovered to monetise them as a whole. Some people will always want content for free, nothing can be done there but I truly believe the majority would prefer to stay on the right side of the law should a viable alternative (in their eyes) be found.


May 13, 2009, 4:20 pm

@smc Digital theft is still a crime and can be tried in a criminal court. The music companies have been pushing for tougher laws and using civil courts to hit people with totally dis-proportional punishments for what is a rather minor crime, our polititians should not be supporting that.

A £7.99 theft should not ever result in massive fines or prison time, this isn't the dark ages. But it hasn't been about that, it's been about controlling the consumer.

Hamish Campbell

May 13, 2009, 4:52 pm

Incidentally, if anyone works out a way to clone a car I'd love to hear from you.


May 13, 2009, 7:18 pm

Pretty much totally agree with what you Gnormie said.

I've got a few hundred DVDs on my book shelves but it's easier to download a divx then rip the bloody things for my personal use given I can't be bothered to circumvent the DRM. I also don't feel very guilty downloading a show like 24 to watch it early given that I've bought every season for myself and quite a few more as presents for others. The film industry needs to learn from the labels. They messed around for ages but are finally are starting to understand and sell us the products we want and not restricting how we can use them.

Saying that I do prefer buying physical media whenever I can. I bought my first download album the other day and although the price was great it wasn't the same not having an actual disk and cover sleeve to go with it. It the same reason I buy books when I could easily go to the library and read them free.


May 13, 2009, 8:04 pm

@ravmania, I agree too. I also download things like 24 to watch. I don't feel quilty as I pay for Sky HD so I can watch the same thing there if I want. It is just more convenient for me to download it in HD and stream it to my PS3 (Yes, I know I can Sky+ it, but there the Sky HD box fills up way to quick when recording HD content. I could go on...). If I was prosecuted for this it would actually cost the industry money as I can tell you I would cancel my Sky contract in a flash!

At the end of the day, until the industry gives consumers what they want and the freedom to watch it on our own terms I don't see how this problem will go away.

Of course the French solution is completely ridiculous!

chrism 1

May 13, 2009, 8:25 pm

@Gordon - That's great for the person cloning the car, but what about the people who made the car that was cloned? How about all the work that went into R&D, design, testing, manufacturing, advertising? They don't get a penny.

People like to bring up the argument that it's ok to take something for free because it's not a physical object, when in fact the value of the thing in question is in the experience, whether it's watching a movie, playing a game or listening to music.

At least be honest with yourself rather than making excuses - it's great to be able to get something for nothing.

Yes, I doubt that # of downloads equals # of lost sales, but I wonder how many of the people who download content and enjoy it are then prompted to go and buy spend money on something they already have?


May 13, 2009, 9:03 pm

@ Chrism

But remember that only a certain amount of people clone the car, many still go buy the original, which covers those costs and if the original maker made a huge profit does it still matter that there are clones out there? The Wolverine movie is a perfect example of this, a workprint of pretty much the entire movie sans special effects was pre released, now if piracy had the absolutely catastrophic effect that the industry claims, why did this movie gross $210 million worldwide? (Not a bad income considering that the film was received rather badly by critics). For a movie of the type it made an incredible amount of money despite the workprint and the bad reviews, so the industry really can't claim that piracy hurt sales (in fact there are a few arguments to be made that the workprint increased sales), though I have no doubt they would have had no scruples doing so if the film grossed rather badly.

As a small addendum to this I didn't pirate the movie and went to watch it in the theater instead to get the 'full experience'. One of the worst decisions I've ever made as the movie was utter crap, and the workprint could have told me that for free.

chrism 1

May 13, 2009, 9:37 pm

@Gnormie - I'm arguing that the principle is wrong, which is that it's okay to take something for free that you would otherwise have to pay for. This doesn't change just because a work breaks even or turns a profit, although I'm sure it makes it easier to justify downloading in the minds of people who would do so regardless.

As for this law, I can see ISPs being reluctant to cut off the source of their income. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out anyway.


May 14, 2009, 1:24 am

Sounds like a good way to get out of a fixed term broadband contract though!


May 14, 2009, 1:46 am

Ducking between the mud pies for a moment.. :-)

A few alternate points I hope:

If the music industry was not so HUGELY profitable no one would be griping in it about the situation i.e. their loss of perceived profit. They had become complacent about their market place and continuous profit from an old world business model; They had not seen what was coming and planned accordingly. The corporate trousers have been pulled well down by the internet and sharing technologies. Who's fault is that? - Not the consumers, for 'we' will always grasp opportunities. If they (music industry et al) can't stand the heat then they should get out of the kitchen - E.g., As Pioneer has demonstrated with Kuro in the Plasma market. -Prudent planning but sad.

The French law will be a good bench experiment about what happens. In some ways its needed, to demonstrate to world and either side of the argument the various consequences of the music industries lusting for such laws. - A law that penalises the buyer and 'illegal' downloader; many of whom are the same person - Not discrete individuals.

ALL business / industry face risk in the market place - The major Foot & Mouth Crisis cost me £500,000 as a very small family business ( that is home everything - gone) its what you gamble for profit in life and business. Its the risk I took in starting and loosing a business. I have to deal with loss and plan ahead, not continuously gripe like the music industry is. I wish the record moguls could get hold of the facts of business life and realise they are no King Canute's! - Examine how its all gone pear shaped and plan for the future, not look backward and rub their hands with lame historical avarice.

comments powered by Disqus