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Is this the beginning of the end for HADOPI?

When HADOPI published a report earlier this year claiming that ‘illegal downloading [is] clearly on the decline in France’ directly because of its graduated response (three-strikes) policy, commentators were quick to question the assumptions. Dr Monica Horten, author of the IPtegrity blog, said this is not an absolute decline. “France Telecom has seen a dramatic increase in streaming traffic... [and also] noticed a marked increase in levels of encrypted traffic since the Hadopi notice-sending began. This could be an indication that users are choosing to use encryption to hide their unauthorised downloads,” she wrote.

LINX Public Affairs concluded that “France may have implemented one of the world’s most costly and overbearing copyright enforcement regimes for little apparent gain.” Cost versus gain has resurfaced now in comments by Aurélie Filippetti, the current minister of culture, given to French publication Le Nouvel Observateur. Pierre Lescure (a former CEO of the Canal+ television channel) has been appointed to look into French digital culture – and especially the French film industry.

The consultation will be wide, “and will address topics as varied as the price of digital books [and] the evolution of the image rights for photographers. Nothing is forbidden. This mission is not centered on Internet Piracy or the post-Hadopi,” said Filippetti. But the magazine pressed on HADOPI, and was told three things: HADOPI has not fulfilled its mission to develop legal alternatives; “in financial terms, 12 million euros a year and 60 officers” is an expensive way to send a million emails; and internet disconnection is disproportionate.

The new consultation is not due to report until next March, but Filippetti has warned that she is likely to cut funding to HADOPI in September. This has led TorrentFreak to suggest that the interview “spells bad and possibly fatal news for the country’s 'three strikes' anti-piracy scheme.”

IPtegrity’s Horten explained to Infosecurity that the consultation was first announced back in May, but is now starting in earnest with the naming of Pierre Lescure. She notes that Filippetti is ‘political’ in her answers to the magazine. Although the clear impression is that she is not happy with HADOPI, she declines to prejudge the consultation. However, Dr Horten told Infosecurity, “we should remember that in opposition, the socialists fought tooth and nail against the HADOPI law, tabling and debating hundreds of amendments before Sarkozy’s majority got it through.” It should be no surprise, then, that the future of HADOPI is now being questioned.

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