HADOPI Says 3-Strikes Is Working. Are You Buying That?

Three-strikes is great at stuffing American prisons, but is it effective at curbing piracy?

Well, the French government – through its HADOPI enforcement arm – is now saying yes, though the data is embarrassingly thin.

According to recently-released report, Biens Culturels et Usages d’Internet : Pratiques et Perceptions des Internautes Français, a significant percentage of those receiving warning letters curbed their file-trading habits.  And, about half of all 1,500 respondents had a favorable regard for HADOPI – but read on.

Dig into the numbers, and serious problems arise.  It turns out that roughly 7 percent of respondents actually received a letter – or knew someone that received a letter.  Of those, half said file-trading stopped entirely, though many were assuming behavioral changes among someone else receiving a letter.  How do you say ‘sloppy’ in French again?

There seems to be a consensus cry of “BS” on this one, though there are still some real questions to ponder.  Most importantly, do stern letters actually change behavior, and offer a soft solution before the cord is cut?  It’s a question that is also being weighed in the UK, where letter-writing campaigns are being trialed before heavier, HADOPI-style measures.

It’s back to the carrot-and-stick discussion of the past ten years.  Stateside, members of Congress are now debating much stronger enforcement bills (ie, PROTECT IP) that would allow immediate shutdowns of ‘rogue’ sites.  And, potentially override aspects of the DMCA while holding ‘enablers’ like ISPs and credit card companies responsible.  It’s the type of muscle that traditional entertainment conglomerates love, though it certainly carries the risk of being heavy-handed and ineffective.