Business Matters: 700,000 French ISP Subscribers Have Received an Infringement Warning
Business Matters: 700,000 French ISP Subscribers Have Received an Infringement Warning

The French three-strike copyright protection system created by French Lawmakes in 2010 is entering its third and final phase. More than ten people who allegedly continued downloading copyrighted materials after receiving two warning letters will be interviewed by HADOPI, the independent authority created by French law to handle copyright infringement, before possibly being sent before a judge.

HADOPI stands for the Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet (High Authority for the Dissemination of Works and the Protection of Rights on the Internet). The organization first began sending email warnings in October 2010.

HADOPI's CPD commission, which is in charge of receiving infringement notifications from rights holders and issuing warning messages to infringers, recently unveiled detailed figures. Since the HADOPI statutes were implemented, the CPD has received 18,380,844 infringement notifications and requested the IP addresses of 1,023,079 infringement cases. The disparity between the two figures comes both from a lack of time and personnel and because often more than one notification targets the same infringer.

The CPD received some 902,970 identifications from the ISPs and to date sent 470,878 first warning messages and 20,598 second warning messages.

HADOPI has yet to refer any user to court, which is the ultimate step in the three-strike system. Over ten people (the body declined to give an exact figure) are close to appearing before a judge, but HADOPI still has to interview the alleged illegal downloaders and decide to continue pursuing charges. It is then up to the court to decide whether or not to cut or limit the infringer's internet access. The CPD stresses that it is up to the ISP to find an adequate technical solution.

The relatively small 10-person figure is considered insufficient by many rights holders. But according to CPD President Mireille Imbert Quaretta the low number is good sign. "The less third warnings we send," she said, "the more the law will have proven effective."

Many music rights holders including musicians, producers and the collection society SCPP have complained that HADOPI is not going far enough. They stress its actions are limited to P2P exchanges and should be extended to direct downloads.

HADOPI will also have to prove itself further as the first false charges claim recently hit the press: Robert Tollot, 54, and a professor in economics, was called by HADOPI to be interviewed in Paris. But Tollot claims he is innocence and says he never downloaded music by Rihanna or David Guetta as he is accused of doing.

HADOPI will unveil a detailed report in September.