Three-Strikes Is Largely Ineffective and ‘Very Questionable,’ French Report Finds…

This is one of the strongest votes yet against three-strikes disconnections in France, despite earlier evidence that piracy is being curtailed.  But according to a government-commissioned report, playing bad cop is just too expensive for too little results.  And most importantly, isn’t leading to enough paying customers.

All of which means there’s a strong chance HADOPI, the body that administers three-strikes warnings and takedowns in France, will soon be scrapped.

Maybe we need a bigger picture here.  Earlier this year, a report from French collection agency SNEP celebrated a pronounced drop in P2P file-swapping, with firm enforcement from HADOPI given ample credit.

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But that data may have been presented unfairly, while ignoring strong, simultaneous shifts towards streaming.  In other words, heavy-handed enforcement may not have been the biggest reason for the decline.  And even if it was, it hasn’t been pushing consumers to start paying.

Which brings us to a completely different finding authored by Pierre Lescure for the French president as well as the Minister of Culture and Communication.

Context: it’s a beautiful thing…

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Make no mistake, Lescure wants to completely scrap three-strikes and HADOPI, but not anti-piracy enforcement altogether.  Instead, the proposal calls for far softer fines without cutting cords, and a shift towards eliminating the ‘real bad guys,’ ie, major counterfeiting operations and sites.  Which is sort of like chasing the cartels instead of coke users, while handing out lighter fines for sniffing and spending less time patrolling the streets.

Meanwhile, the evidence is mounting that big fines and disconnections are largely ineffective.  The report noted that “the sanctions applicable today seem disproportionate to the massive nature of the practices [ie, illegal downloading]” and that “the existence of an administrative authority almost exclusively dedicated to [three-strikes] is also very questionable“.

This case study on the response to French three strikes, as authored by researchers as Wellesley and Carnegie Mellon University, supports the assessment.

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22 Responses

  1. antivisitor

    I think the infamous Visitor will be shocked by this news.

    • Visitor

      “the infamous Visitor”

      lol, I suppose that would be me, thanks…

      OK, best news so far this month!

      Here are the proposed — and extremely improved — new French anti-piracy measures:

      1) Replace time-consuming bureaucracy and Internet disconnection with moderate, automated fines (starting at 60 euro for one-time pirates, going up for hardcore criminals), as suggested by the music industry.

      2) Move focus from individual criminals to the commercial Piracy Industry.

      This is what artists have asked, begged and prayed for since the dawn of mankind. 🙂

      Let’s hope a lot of countries will copy the proposed initiatives…

      • antivisitor

        Move focus to commercial Piracy. I’m with you on this.
        Filesharers are in it for sharing the music they like. Now fans can share music using streaming services the #1 item is less important. So it is vital that your music is available for streaming.

  2. Yves Villeneuve

    I assume these new Deezer streaming subscribers are a result of Hadopi. Deezer is a French company so national pride does play a major role in consumer habits.
    Are these new Deezer subscriptions free or paid. If the free version did not exist it’s quite likely downloads would be happening.
    To Recap, the current French Government is misleading the public but as a newly elected liberal government wants to introduce softer fines while discrediting the past conservative government.
    The French report is much more about politics than the truth.

    • Faza (TCM)

      I agree that this is probably seen as a cheap way to win some popularity – all the cheaper, since someone else will have to shoulder the cost, should the scrapping of Hadopi lead to a resurgence of P2P downloading.
      I am, however, interested in just how the French government intends to “go after the cartels”. If the track record of governments worldwide is any indication, such declarations rarely amount to much. It’s not like we don’t know who the “cartels” are or what they’re doing. Doing something about it – well, that’s a different story altogether.
      I also can’t help thinking what will happen if there is a piracy resurgence: will HADOPI be brought back? Somehow, I’m certain this won’t happen easily and that numerous studies will be produced to show that said piracy resurgence had nothing to do with the liquidation of HADOPI.

      • Visitor

        “I also can’t help thinking what will happen if there is a piracy resurgence: will HADOPI be brought back?”
        Faza, this proposal is way better than HADOPI.
        HADOPI didn’t focus on organized crime, and it managed to issue one 150 euro fine!
        The old system will now be replaced by automated 60 euro fines!

        • Casey

          Automated fines are worthless if you don’t catch anyone.

        • Casey

          Hadopi probably helped Deezer, but I doubt a large increase in downloads would have happened had streaming not existed. France has never been very friendly towards paying for individual downloads. They would have probably found other means of acquiring music.

        • Visitor

          “The French report is much more about politics than the truth”
          Please read a bit more about it, Yves. This proposal is everything we — or at least I — want:
          1) Extended focus on the commercial Piracy Industry!
          2) Improved 3 Strikes: Pirates get 2 warnings and then a moderate and realistic 60 euro fine. Increased fines for hard-core criminals, though. The best part? It will no longer be a bureaucratic nightmare, but an automated system.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I’m not against improved measures if they are an improvement. Based on your points, they are improvements I.e. reasonable fines, controlling criminal group activity and cheaper enforcement.
            I’m merely pointing out that Hadopi was not a failure as I assume was stated in this French report.
            Unfortunately some will fall victim to misleading politics rather than observing what is truly going on here.

          • Visitor

            “I’m merely pointing out that Hadopi was not a failure”
            Agree. According to this study, HADOPI caused iTunes song and album sales to increase by 22.5%:
            That’s obviously a success.
            But one convicted pirate is, on the other hand, a failure. So I assume we can agree that the current system needs improvement.
            And there’s no doubt that the proposed automated 3 Strikes system will be far more effective.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            To be honest, I don’t know if one convicted pirate is a failure unless I have more details. We’re the people simply too afraid to trigger a third strike resulting in a permanent Internet disconnection? I need more details before declaring the new measures as a vast improvement.

          • Visitor

            “Were the people simply too afraid to trigger a third strike resulting in a permanent Internet disconnection?”
            Well, 1 million pirates received first strikes; 100,000 received a second and 340 got a third strike.
            So something is indeed working.
            However, something’s also wrong when it takes years to fine the 340 hardcore abusers. This suggests that the old system is too slow and bureaucratic to keep preventing people from stealing.
            A fast, easy and automated system, run by the agency that regulates electronic media, will be more effecient.
            It’s also very important to avoid measures that ordinary people find too drastic. And Internet disconnection isn’t popular among the general population.
            A clear majority think that moderate fines — such as the 60 euro ($78) in this new proposal — is just what the doctor ordered:
            So I think the French report pretty much nailed it.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Thanks for the details. Helpful. Still undecided if the new measures are vast improvements but likely won’t hurt our cause or French society.

  3. GGG

    Surprise surprise. At the risk of reposting what I said like 6 hours ago, you cannot win by attacking anything other than the fundamental root of the problem. People stealing music is not the root, it is the effect.

    • Visitor

      “People stealing music is not the root, it is the effect”
      Agree, the root is obviously the commercial Piracy Industry.
      And the beauty of the new initiatives is that they address the cause as well as the effect.

      • GGG

        The piracy industry is the vehicle, it’s not the fundamental root, though.

  4. Faza (TCM)

    If streaming can be seen as the reason for the drop in downloading, shouldn’t it equally be considered as the reason sales haven’t picked up? That’s the whole point of streaming in the first place: to not have to buy music (not to mention the fact that streaming constrains spending at ridiculously low levels, even for top-tier customers).
    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, non?

  5. Don Bondo

    Lest we all forget, It’s really quite simple:
    No one likes pirates anymore…..or pedophiles for that matter. The used to, but they don’t anymore.
    It’s simple 🙂

    • Visitor

      “No one likes pirates anymore”
      So true! 🙂
      And many are definitely frustrated by the fact that only one pirate has been fined by HADOPI, so far.
      That’s why the French now suggest an improved, automated 3 Strikes system.

  6. HansH

    Look at the graph and the P2P line.

    When did LimeWire stop? Let met tell you: October 2010.
    Now look at the P2P line again.