How many strikes will France's HADOPI 'three strikes' law get?

If only the French government had had this much determination against the Nazis. The French Senate last week once again passed a version of the HADOPI online copyright infringement bill, this time adding a step after the three accusations in which a judge may choose among three penalties: a ban from the Net, a two-year prison sentence, or a $415,000 fine.

Those accused of "allowing" illegal downloading -- if a third party used their connection to do so -- would face a $2,075 fine or a month's cutoff from the Net.

HADOPI has been championed by French president Nicolas Sarkozy (and his wife, Carla Bruni) and has been supported by Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party. The UMP party has a higher proportional representation in the French Senate than it does in the lower-house National Assembly.

One supposes that the shift -- the final cutoff decision previously rested with the newly formed HADOPI agency that gave the bill its nickname -- would both denature the nickname and give the bill better traction with those who objected to its provisions. However, there's still no provision for the accused to challenge accusations, and if doesn't appear from a reading of the bill that the judges can actually toss out cases; all they can do is choose from among the three penalties.

Gerald Sédrati-Dinet, an analyst for the Francophone Quadrature du Net, said (if we may trust Google's translation services), "The vote of the senators of the majority is simply outrageous: cannot totally dispense with the judiciary, they have validated the ploy of the government reducing the courts to simply rubber stamp. [The decision] is mocking the Constitutional Court, citizens and values-based democracy."

The revised bill is scheduled for debate on July 21.

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