In a world where the music fan is drifting away from downloads — paid, illegal, or whatever — does something like ‘three-strikes’ make sense? France has decided it doesn’t.
Moving forward, file-swappers will receive automatic fines for bad behavior, and connections won’t be disconnected. Instead, the focus now shifts to commercial offenders, including uploading sites and illegal mp3 sites. In the translated words of the French Minister of Culture and Communication…
“The priority is now on commercial piracy, including sites that profit from pirated content without paying creators.”
(official statement, here)
All of which means the “three strikes,” “graduated response” regime is now being replaced, with administering group HADOPI essentially neutered. And let the hangover begin: French Minister of Culture and Communication Aurélie Filippetti is now calling three-strikes a “totally inappropriate fine,” while introducing automatic fines that start at 60 euros (about $77) and ramp upward after subsequent infractions.
The move follows some highly-contradictory and controversial results, especially as streaming continues to replace both paid and illegal downloads. Initially, major labels in France were the biggest cheerleaders for HADOPI, despite obvious complications related to user privacy, accusations, and enforcement overreach. But early results indicated declines in file-swapping volumes and locker-based uploading.
For example, here’s one graph trotted out by French rights society SNEP earlier this year, though the role of HADOPI was actively debated.
Which brings us to some questionable causality: after all, downloads are also declining in the US, where ‘six strikes’ is basically a pussycat compared to HADOPI. Perhaps the stream is the more potent anti-piracy pill, despite far lower payouts and artist compensation.