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French 'three strikes' piracy law faces major reversal as leaders question ultimate penalty

French 'three strikes' piracy law faces major reversal as leaders question ultimate penalty

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France's tough piracy policy, which allows for copyright infringers' internet connections to be suspended, is likely to be toned down, according to a report from The New York Times. Under current law, anyone caught pirating copyrighted material three times in a year (after receiving two warnings), is liable to have their internet connection disconnected. The law was then-president Nicolas Sarkozy's grand scheme to clamp down on copyright infringement and protect the country's creative industries. However, a new report has recommended modifying the law to drop suspensions in favor of a €60 (around $78) fine.

Although no planned modification to the policy has been made public, comments from high-ranking officials show that the present government seems ready for change. France's minister delegate in charge of internet policy is quoted by The New York Times as saying "it's not possible to cut off internet access," before comparing suspending internet connections to "cutting off water."

Piracy has risen since the law was introduced

Despite the "three strikes" law gaining a lot of press — and being emulated in some form by the US, UK, and others — music piracy has actually risen in France. Some have called the law ineffective, noting that very few internet suspensions have actually gone through, with many third strikes being reduced in court to fines or suspended sentences. "If you cannot chop off a few heads as an example, then the chopping machine inspires less fear," said a spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, an advocacy group that's firmly against the anti-piracy law. SNEP, the French organization that protects the interests of the country's music industry, notes that visits to "illegal music sites" rose by seven percent between January 2010 and January 2013. The organization won't argue against the law change, but believes the proposed €60 fine is too low.