France sends warnings to web pirates

PARIS: French Internet providers have begun sending e-mail warnings to users caught illegally dowloading films and music under a new antipiracy law.

The High Authority for Dissemination of Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (Hadopi) said the first warning messages have been sent, warning suspects that they will face legal action if the piracy continues.

The Internet piracy watchdog Hadopi, set up last year to fight piracy and promote legal online sales, catches users by obtaining the IP address that identifies individual computers on a network.

“Attention, your Internet connection has been used to commit legally-noted acts that could constitute a breach of the law,” begins the lengthy e-mail message that the suspects then receive.

If the piracy recurs within six months, the Internet user receives a second e-mail message, followed by a registered letter. After a third infraction, their Internet connection can be cut for up to a year and a fine imposed.

The specialist IT journal PcInpact reported that the first warnings had been sent to subscribers of two major Internet service providers, Numericable and Bouygues Telecom, while SFR and Orange are due to follow soon.

The law is being touted as an example for other countries and the best way to protect artistes’ income, but critics see the threat of having Internet connections cut as a breach of human rights.

“Instead of developing legal options as promised, Hadopi is going straight to slapping people down,” said Edouard Barreiro of the consumers’ association UFC-Que Choisir. — Relaxnews

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