Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2016, 15:25 GMT

France: ARTICLE 19 welcomes repeal of HADOPI law but concerns remain

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 18 July 2013
Cite as Article 19, France: ARTICLE 19 welcomes repeal of HADOPI law but concerns remain, 18 July 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51ecf4954.html [accessed 29 July 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes France's repeal last week of a law that legalised the internet disconnection of copyright infringers. This move is in line with France's international obligations to respect freedom of expression, as well as ARTICLE 19's Right to Share principles. However, ARTICLE 19 remains concerned over the fines of up to 1,500 euros (US$2,000) that can still be imposed against those who infringe copyright.

On 10 July, a French Ministerial Decree repealed the so-called HADOPI law which made it legal to disconnect internet users for copyright infringement. The law, introduced by former Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009, aimed to provide a "graduated response" tackling online piracy.

About the HADOPI law

HADOPI operated under a so-called "three strikes" system. Initially, two warnings were sent to internet users who infringed copyright. If another infringement was detected, the courts had the power to order the disconnection of the user's internet connection at the time of the third and final warning. However, during the life of HADOPI, there has only been one reported case of a user being disconnected from the Internet. In that case, a district court ruled that the user be disconnected for 15 days, as well as imposing a fine of 600 euros.

Condemnation of HADOPI and other internet disconnection penalties

ARTICLE 19 has previously condemned three-strikes laws as a violation of freedom of expression. While the right to freedom of expression may be restricted under international law, any such restriction can only be justified if it is

provided by law

pursues a legitimate aim

necessary for the protection of that aim.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, has expressly stated that cutting off copyright-infringers from the Internet, irrespective of the justification given, constitutes a disproportionate restriction of freedom of expression and a violation of Article 19 of the ICCPR.

Reactions to the repeal of the HADOPI law

Wednesday's repeal of the internet disconnection provisions of the HADOPI law is in line with the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur. It brings French copyright legislation closer to France's international human rights obligations.

ARTICLE 19 remains concerned, however, that fines of up to 1500 euros may still be imposed by the High Audiovisual Council (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel), France's broadcast regulating authority, for copyright infringement.

We also remain concerned about a series of proposals that were made in May 2013 by the Lescure report, which could have a negative impact on Internet freedoms. They include the suggestion that Internet intermediaries should voluntarily adopt preventative measures to deal with copyright infringement. As a result, there is every reason to remain vigilant about French's cultural policies and their consequences for freedom of expression online.

ARTICLE 19 urges other countries with similar "graduated response" laws, including Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan, to follow France's example and repeal such laws.

- See more at: http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37169/en/france:-article-19-welcomes-repeal-of-hadopi-law-but-concerns-remain#sthash.CpDz1k87.dpuf

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