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Since may 2009 a law to protect copyright owners is in place in France.

This is a clear example of how bad things can go.

It is  an initiative to protect entertaining industry and severely punish Internet users. Giving them no change to defend themselves, once they will have to prove innocence only after punishment is already in place.

This is also a clear example of how politicians without much clue of Internet usage, or how it works can fire back in Internet growth, dissemination, innovation. It creates fear among users, specially among the techno naives.

Basically the law creates an agency, called HADOPI [1], which has the duty to police Internet users but on the matters of copying or sharing copyrighted material. HADOPI is from the french means something like: "the High Authority for Transmission of Creative Works and Copyright Protection on the Internet".

In the case of a abuse claim received by the agency, the Internet user will be notified by email. This is the first strike.
The users is identified by the IP address involved in the claim.

The first strike also obligates the ISP to start monitoring the user behavior when connected to the Internet, and the user "invited" to install filters on the Internet connection.

If, in the 6 moths after the first notification, a new offense is noted by the copyright holder, the ISP or HODOPI, the second strike is issued. That is a certified letter and an email to the user and a copy to the ISP.

And, finally, if during the year from the first strike, the users "fails" to comply with the orders, the 3rd strike comes in place.
The user has its Internet connection cutted, has its name inserted in a black list (ISPs cannot offer services to users listed in it), and will still have to keep paying for the service from the provider.
The punishment can last from 3 months to one year.

And only after the 3rd strike the user is given the right to appeal and try to prove his/her innocence. And even if he/she got luck in the appeal, it would only result in shortening the period but not the Internet cut.

How this fail badly?
First, the user has presented not way to appeal until he got punished. There is no investigation, only the so called evidence of the IP address.
The user is given now help at all to solve the problem. At the 1st strike, he/she will be "invited" to install filter. But is he/she instructed to do so? Is it enough?
And the law is very biased in the entertaining industry interests.

The case of the 54 year teacher who got punished by this law is a clear example of how it fails. [2]

The teacher even said that, when of receiving the 1st strike notification, he tried to install a filter but had no clue about how to do it. And after 2nd strike he also tried to secure the wifi network, but again, no clue how to do it.

But above all, he stated his is innocent, he has no idea how to download unauthorized content. That it is clear that his wifi connection was abused, once it was open.

And here comes another problem. Suppose the wifi network was closed with the available encryption mechanisms, and it is invaded and abused. How one could prove that the access was not authorized? It will certainly hard to convince the authorities.
We should not ignore that encryption can be broken, social engineering can be applied, or other type of attack can happen.

Once I read and article from a security expert in USA who had this very same concern, and decided that was better to leave his wifi open.

To sum up, I don't believe that this 3 strikes law can solve the problem.
It will only punish innocent users.
Those criminals doing the illegal copy of copyrighted material are smart and will by pass the law easily. They are the ones exploring the open wifi networks out there.

References:
[1] "The French HADOPI law or Creation and Internet law"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HADOPI_law
[2] "54-Year Old School Teacher Who Doesn't Know How To Download Movies First To Be Kicked Off The Internet In France."http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110724/01212715219/54-year-old-s...

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Replies to This Discussion

It is true that nobody is above the law and that is one of the reasons, ignorance is not an excuse. However, I think passing laws or implementing policies always go with much awareness creation and education. If the populace is well versed in the laws through much education, is likely to have less victimized or fall as a prey. An enabling environment is all one need to enforce the law to get the right people (criminals or offenders) to prosecute not the innocent ones

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