French anti-piracy chief: ‘punishment is not enough’

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France has led the way in pushing forward with stringent laws intended to end online piracy, with Hadopi — a graduated-response policy championed by former president Nicolas Sarkozy — at its center.

Now, however, the man in charge of reviewing the law says he disagrees with one of its central propositions.

Pierre Lescure, the former head of TV network Canal+, was given the task of examining the Hadopi legislation earlier this year. He’s due to report back next spring with recommendations to improve the rules. Lawmakers say have been working well, although critics remain skeptical.

Speaking at an event in south-east France, Lescure revealed some of his opinions on the subject, suggesting he was “opposed to cutting internet access” – the sanction that is ultimately meant to be the culmination of Hadopi’s three-strike policy.

“Hadopi didn’t take into account the demands of internet users,” he said at the Altair Thinktank‘s Université Ouverte (Open University) event in Avignon, adding that people want something with “immediacy and universality that is more or less free”.

His comments will come as music to the ears of those who have campaigned against Hadopi, but those imagining that he may recommend a repeal shouldn’t get too excited. At the same time as criticizing the law, Lescure also suggested that taking sanctions against users accused of illegal filesharing was a crucial part of the process:

 

“Punishment is necessary, but it is not sufficient,” he said. “We must maximize the legal provisions.”

Indeed, he went on to point out that l’exception culturelle, the concept used by government that treats culture differently from other sorts of industry in order to preserve a distinct sense of Frenchness, is utterly reliant on intellectual property laws.

“The French cultural exception is based on copyright protection,” he said.

What exactly does that mean? That’s what are waiting to find out. New president Francois Hollande may have hinted that he would like to strike out Hadopi, but we won’t know whether Lescure will deliver that pitch for a while yet.

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