France’s controversial Hadopi Laws are widely seen as a failure, as despite employing 60 people and spending €12 million per year on sending out 1.6 million warning emails, only €750 was collected in fines, and a single person was disconnected from the internet for 15 days.
Combined with evidence that the law did nothing to stop piracy, on 10 July 2013 it was revoked on the grounds that the punitive penalties imposed on copyright infringers were disproportionate, and new rules were introduced that instead made first time offenders liable for an automatic €60 fine (which can rise to €1500 for multiple offences).
HADOPI (Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet), the government agency responsible for administrating the rules, has nevertheless just published (.pdf) some rather dubious figures which indicate the ‘three-strikes’ rules have had some success.
According to Hadopi, 9 percent (3,249,481 ) of France’s internet users received at least one warning, but only 333,723 second warnings were needed (so about 10 percent of those accused of piracy once went on to re-offend).
Only 1,502 users (0.45 percent of those sent a second warning) required a third warning. Most of these became subject to a review by Hadopi’s committee, and 116 cases ended up in court (almost all of which simply resulted in another warning).
The reason that we say ‘rather dubious figures’ is twofold. Firstly, we have little reason to believe Hadopi’s self-justifying report, especially when it directly contradicts the findings of much more academic (and independent) research, which concluded 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.’
With only 23 percent of people who had received a warning (taken from a small poll of letter correspondents to Hadopi, hardly the most representative sample of filesharers imaginable), even Hadopi admits that ‘receiving a warning does not result in a massive shift towards legal offers.’
Our second point is therefor that it seems hardly credible that 73 percent of people warned about filesharing suddenly stop watching movies or listening to music, so if they are not doing it legally, they must have shifted to using methods such as VPN, cyberlockers, and UseNet, to get their media fix without fear of being detected again…