While I don’t believe that the new Hadopi “three strikes” law in France has started being enforced yet (due to data privacy questions), it technically went into effect at the beginning of the year, and was widely promoted around France. Of course, our big question was why anyone thought that such laws would actually make anyone buy. The general reasoning that supporters of such laws gave is that it would decrease unauthorized file trading, and those people would magically want to start buying again. But, of course, as mentioned at the time, we already have empirical data that this wouldn’t work. After all, here in the US, thousands of people were threatened with millions of dollars in fines for file sharing — a punishment significantly more stringent than losing your internet connection. And, rather than decrease the amount of unauthorized file trading, it only increased (quite a bit), often moving to more underground resources.
So it should come as little (i.e., no) surprise that in the few months since the Hadopi law has technically been in effect in France, reports have found an increase in unauthorized file trading, along with a notable shift from BitTorrent to other, less trackable, solutions.
So what’s next? Suing doesn’t work. Kicking people off the internet doesn’t work. Can we hope that maybe next on the list is actually putting in place a good business model?
And this is the biggest stupidity of Dark Lord Peter Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill. He seriously thinks that by setting draconian punishments for ‘illegal’ downloading he can change people’s behaviour. The evidence worldwide suggests otherwise, and the people who are instead most likely to be disadvantaged are legitimate businesses, libraries, universities, websites and ISPs who don’t feel they can afford to get sued for the behaviour of individuals entirely unconnected with them. And that’s without the bill’s provision for secret and arbitrary web censorship by the Secretary of State. It’s stupid legislation which shouldn’t be allowed to pass.
Join me at the demonstration against it on 24th March.
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