New paper shows three strikes law doesn’t stop piracy

A new paper (‘Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law) has been published. After studying France’s controversial ‘Hapodi’ law, where individuals identified as copyright pirates were disconnected from the internet after receiving two warnings about their alleged infringing behavior, it concludes that the scheme did nothing to prevent piracy.

Despite what is widely seen as the failure of the law in France (leading to a change where those who fall foul of it now pay only a €60 fine instead of being disconnected), similar schemes have been introduced in other countries (for example The United States’ Six Strikes ‘Copyright Alert System, and the three strikes legislation of South Korea and Taiwan), are being planned in some countries (for example in Ireland), and are being pushed for in many others (such as the UK).

The paper, based on a survey of 2000 French internet users, finds ‘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.’

Importantly, the researchers found that the threat of legal sanctions did nothing to deter infringing behavior,

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.

What the paper did find was that because only P2P (i.e. BitTorrent) downloading was monitored by Hadopi, many respondents had switched to less monitored channels such as direct downloads and Usenet instead,

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.

If you live in a country with a three (or six) strikes law, don’t forget that using a VPN allows you to P2P download in safety, in addition to making all your internet activity highly private.

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

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