IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy tells Billboard.biz that "three-strikes" schemes to tackle illegal file-sharing are still a solution, despite the French legal ruling against a key element of the country's proposed system.

Kennedy also believes that the French can find a way round the June 10 decision by France's Constitutional Council, which ruled that the proposed administrative body HADOPI could not cut repeat infringers' Internet access, which had been a key part of the "Creation and Internet" law to deter piracy.

"We believe there will be a solution to this," comments Kennedy. He says that the French government is looking to appoint a special judge to process "three-strikes" cases as that "would satisfy the requirements" of the Constitutional Court.

Although it's a blow to the "three-strikes" scheme in France and potentially elsewhere, Kennedy says there is still political will behind it in France, where it has been championed by President Sarkozy. The French government has yet to officially confirm its next step, but Kennedy is confident that a special judge will be appointed to rule on cutting Internet access for those accused of copyright infringement who have already received two warnings.

"That is our understanding of what will happen as the next step, and it will take some time, but there is still the determination on the part of the French government to make sure that this happens," says Kennedy.

The Council's decision was based on the fact that communication and liberty of expression are fundamental rights that only a judge can make a ruling on, according to French law. The Culture minister Christine Albanel said HADOPI can still issue warning letters, and she expects it to begin doing so by the fall, while the government looks likely to amend the legislation with the sanctions element of the Creation and Internet law revised.

In a statement, SACEM, the collecting society for French authors, composers and publishers, called on the government "to act promptly in order to take into account the Constitutional Council's decision without threatening the effectiveness of the initial legislation."

"In so far as each passing month sees a further deterioration in the economic situation of creators, it is vital to avoid any delay in implementing a fundamental measure to combat piracy whilst not undermining it in any way," the statement continued. "The authors, composers and publishers of music who are members of SACEM have been very active in this cause, and they will be very watchful."

"I firmly believe in the 'three-strikes' approach," comments Kennedy, who believes the debate about the French scheme has also had an educational impact about the cost to the industry of file-sharing.

He adds, "As all of this is happening, there are more legal offerings, more services, there will be more subscription models. We need people to have incentives to migrate from free, both because there's a carrot [attractive legal services] and also the stick that there are consequences for going the illegal, free route. Spotify and We7 are obviously great [free ad-funded streaming] services that are available and there are more to come."

"It is interesting to me this concept that the right to access the Internet is a fundamental human right," says Kennedy of the "setback" that is the French Constitutional Council ruling. "I don't understand why we're not balancing a fundamental human right of access to the Internet with the fundamental rights of intellectual property rights holders."

The U.K.'s strategy to tackle file-sharing will be outlined in the Digital Britain report due June 16. There are media reports that its author, communications minister Lord Carter, is planning to leave government after completing his work on the Digital Britain proposals.

"I think the great news is that President Sarkozy and the French government, knowing how important French cultural industries are and French creative industries, have decided to find a way round what's a real problem," concludes Kennedy. "I think there's every possibility that those who are less courageous, and care less about their creative industries, will use it [the French ruling] as an excuse to walk away from the problem. But let's hope the need for protection of creative industries, and to encourage creative industries, wins over a lack of courage."

For more reaction to the French ruling see the new issue of Billboard.