France’s ‘Three-Strikes’ Hadopi Law Gets the Guillotine

The French government has made a U-turn on its controversial “graduated response” law, Hadopi.

After mounting criticism in recent months, the anti-piracy experiment has been dumped and will be replaced with a system of automatic fines, according to an official government report.

The end for the unpopular Hadopi law shouldn't come as a shock to industry observers. France’s digital music business has been struggling of late and some entertainment execs have pointed the finger at Hadopi for strangling the market. 

In the first quarter of 2013, digital music sales fell 5.2% to €30.9 million (about $40.9 million) according to SNEP, the French recording trade group. At the same time, streaming revenue grew by a disappointing 2%.

Earlier, several studies confirmed that Hadopi hadn’t been effective at combating music piracy. One report suggested that, since 2010, visits to illegal music download sites has risen 7% to 10.7 million visits.

Pierre Lescure, the former president of pay-television company Canal Plus who oversaw a report on digital policy for the French government, reportedly suggested that Hadopi should drop the practise of "disconnection," or cutting off offenders' Internet access, and replace it with a €60 ($80) fine. SNEP Chairman and Sony France CEO Stéphane Le Tavernier supported an increase in that sum to €120 ($160), or a year of subscription to a music service.

Reports surfaced at the end of 2012 claiming the axe was hovering above Hadopi.

The anti-piracy system was implemented in 2009 under France's then-President Nicolas Sarkozy. By the end of 2012, Hadopi had resulted in over 1.25 million warnings sent to broadband subscribers, two guilty convictions and just one fine, according to numbers released by the country's Minster of Justice.