Wednesday 8 August 2012

Hadopi "failure" a warning for the UK?

The French government is counting the cost of administering the ‘Law Hadopi’ copyright enforcement: Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down repeat infringers under France’s three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and 99,000 registered letters although just 134 cases have been examined for prosecution and no cases have as yet resulted in an Internet user being disconnected. Hadopi has a payroll of over 60 and annual costs have now reached a reported 12 million Euros,  prompting French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti to describe the system as “unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective”. Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur that Hadopi had also failed in a key part of its mission, to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads prompting the French government to  launch a consultation to re-examine it's response Internet piracy with Filippetti talking of a post-Hadopi future. 

In a separate interview, Pierre Lescure, head of the commission into the “Future of Piracy” and a former boss at Canal+, endorsed Filippetti’s stance, saying he attaches “great importance” to the development of legal offers, and that the temptations to piracy are so great “only a priest would not yield” saying “The error of Hadopi was to focus on the penalty”, telling Le Nouvel Observateur. “If one starts from the penalty, it will fail”, adding that the sanction of disconnection is, for now, unenforceable.

The French system had been heralded as a success by many in the content industries who pointed to a reduction in online piracy and illegal downloading of music and films – although a January 2011 poll in France indicated that 49% of French Internet users continue to illegally download music and video.  The obvious reluctance of the Minister and the commission head to support Hadopi is a glum reminder for supporters of the three strikes provisions in the UK’s Digital Economy Act -  even if implemented in the UK it seems a  three strikes scheme might be an expensive industry funded failure.

1 comment:

Francis Davey said...

I'm afraid you may be right - on the "industry funded failure" point.

It is, however, hard to say. HADOPI was very different from the DEA graduated response scheme. For example: HADOPI had fines, the DEA does not. It had a more developed administrative core (the HADOPI itself) whereas the DEA is more diffuse - there will be a number of bodies involved and no-one specifically trying to get to a solution within government.

Its also frustratingly difficult to know what effect these schemes actually have. I see claims made by different "sides" which are wildly different. So, it seems to me, really difficult to know whether there's value to be had here at all, and/or whether its actually value for money.

The scheme of the DEA is still very unformed. We don't know when (or if) there will be any technical measures such as internet suspension, let alone how on earth those measures will be applied, eg how strictly, by whom for how long and so on. Given that the more radical half of the DEA scheme is still just a dream, it is not possible to give any sober evaluation of whether or not the whole thing will be a success.

What we have at the moment is little more than a glorified letter writing scheme, at great expense and very inefficiently conceived. Even so, it might have an effect. Who knows? Maybe the notifications will reduce infringement enough to make it all worth while - surely no-one argues either that they will have no effect or they will be 100% effective.

Those interested in protecting their copyright online will gain most the better their propaganda (or "outreach" or "education" if that seems like to loaded a word).

I think its also pretty clear that we will see European legislation in the medium term. Having each nation implement different and contradictory "nth-strike" systems makes no sense and can't but fragment the single market. What Europe comes up with will therefore be most influential.