Last year, the Internet began to be seen as a basic human right and some countries have instituted legal means of guaranteeing that the vast majority of their citizens have access to a quality Internet connection. Other countries, though, are going the other way, hindering their citizen's web use and in some cases moving to disconnect them altogether. In France, the heavily criticized and disputed, so-called "three strikes" law has come into effect starting January 1st. Its backers are quick to boast the laws unabridged effectiveness, but common sense points the other way.
The way it stands, illegal file-sharers in France have chances to see the error of their ways and make amends before being sent before a judge and possibly having their Internet 'privileges' removed. First-time offenders will be sent an email by the newly formed Higher Authority for the Distribution of Works and the Protection of Copyright on the Internet (HADOPI) warning them to cease their illegal activities. How exactly the agency will determine users' email addresses, or even harder, the address they are actively using remains to be seen.
If the miscreants continue to show utter disregard for the law and the rights, and wallets, of the media industry, they will be sent an actual letter urging them to stop their wrong-doing or face the consequences. If even this fails to strike fear in the hearts of the hardened criminals, they will be called in front of a judge which will then be able to fine them or even disconnect them from the Internet.
The elected officials responsible for this triumph of copyright holders around the world are already patting themselves on the back for their great work. Michel Thiolliere, a French senator and member of the Hadopi, tells the BBC that the law will be highly successful and that the people will finally understand why illegal file-sharing is so wrong.
"The internet is a fabulous world, but it needs rules, if you want to get cinema, music or video games in the future," the BBC quotes Thiolliere. "What we think is that after the first message... about two-thirds of the people (will) stop their illegal usages of the internet... After the second message more than 95% will finish with that bad usage," he added.
Adding hard numbers to unsubstantiated claims is a sure way of making your argument seem valid. At first glance, it would seem that the piracy problem in France has been solved, with 95 percent of the people dropping their illegal behavior. What it most probably means is that, while peer-to-peer file sharing will see a drop, perhaps even a significant one, other means of file sharing or ways to circumvent the law will take over and actual piracy will not see a significant drop. As TorrentFreak points out, there are a number of ways of getting your hands on the content you want while also making sure to avoid any troubles with the law.