French Assembly passes 'three strikes' HADOPI law

The highly controversial French Création et Internet law, which gives ISPs there the power to block access to the Internet for anyone accused three times of illegal file-sharing, is on a collision course with the EU after winning approval in a well-attended 296-233 vote in the National Assembly. The bill previously passed the National Assembly on a rather smaller, dead-of-night 21-15 vote.

The bill is also known as HADOPI, the High Authority for Copyright Protection and Dissemination of Works on the Internet. That's the proposed organization to be charged with monitoring compliance if the bill passes into law.

The bill now moves to the Senate and to the desk of President Nicolas Sarkozy, both of whom are expected to give quick approval. The European Parliament is, however, the true court of last resort here -- and as recently as last week, nearly 90% of that body said that it would not support HADOPI's "graduated response" unless judicial oversight was put into place to manage the process.

The EU's constitution stipulates that Internet access is a fundamental human right. As it stands, the three strikes are really just accusations: There's no significant burden to prove that the accused party is indeed file-sharing, and there's no appeals process available for the accused. No judges no cease, said the EU, which last week refused a "compromise" offered by the French. And thus France girds itself for a human rights battle.

In related news, it has come to light that employees at the Ministry of Culture, which lobbied hard for HADOPI, were responsible for leaking a letter written by a citizen to his MP expressing a critical opinion of HADOPI -- resulting in his firing.

Jérome Bourreau-Guggenheim, who was head of the Web Innovation Center for broadcaster TF1, did not write his letter from his work account. Nonetheless, the letter made its way from his MP, to the Ministry of Culture, to TF1, to one of those meetings that ends with a cardboard box and a security escort. Le Point magazine cites MP Christine Albanel who describes the man's firing as vraiment regrettable.

The Open... blog, which has been diligently covering HADOPI developments, makes note of new information about the tracking software users will be required to use. It appears, among other problems, that the program may not support GNU/Linux -- interesting, since according to Red Hat's map of open-source usage, France is first in the world for both per-capita open-source deployment and open-source deployment in government itself.

The Senate vote is expected this week. (Anti-HADOPI lolcat courtesy of Flickr user tristao.)

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