Saturday

30th Jul 2016

Focus

French internet law clashes with EU position

  • French senators want to force web surfers to use legal download services such as iTunes rather than pirate copyrighted content (Photo: EUobserver)

The French Senate has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a law that would cut off access to the internet to web surfers who repeatedly download copyrighted music, films or video games without paying.

Under the so-called three strikes or "graduated response" legislation - which still needs approval by the lower house before it becomes French law - illegal downloaders are first sent an email warning them of their infraction. They are subsequently sent a warning letter in the post.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

If after this second warning they continue to illegally download copyrighted content, the internet service provider will cut off access to the internet for a year.

The legislation passed with a massive cross-party majority of 297 votes to 15. Only a handful of conservatives, centrists and socialists voted against, while the Communists abstained.

In passing the bill, the senators rejected an amendment proposed by senator Bruno Retailleau of the right-wing MPF party replacing internet cut-off with a fine.

Mr Retailleau accused the bill of being too severe. "Cutting access to the internet is discriminatory," he said, pointing out that often internet access comes bundled with television and fixed-line telephone services and that it is impossible to just cut off the internet.

He added that the internet has become an "essential commodity" that allows people access to social services and that their removal would be "traumatic for a family."

But the culture minister had earlier warned against the amendment, saying that the introduction of a fine was more severe a punishment.

"The principle of a financial penalty changes the philosophy [of the bill], from instructive to repressive," Christine Albanel said.

Companies and other enterprises where multiple computers have access to one network however, would instead be required to install firewalls to prevent workers from illegal downloading.

The legislation is the transposition into law of an extra-parliamentary initiative of President Nicholas Sarkozy from last November, the so-called Olivennes accord, in which some 40 stakeholders from the music, cinema and internet service provision sectors agreed that repeat illegal downloaders would have their internet cut off by ISPs. However, the accord was essentially a gentleman's agreement between the parties and without legislative weight.

The bill sets up a tussle between France and Brussels. In September, the European Parliament approved by a large majority an amendment outlawing internet cut-off.

The amendment, part of a wider telecoms bill, was then defended by information society commissioner Viviane Reding after President Sarkozy earlier this month sent European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso a letter requesting he work to overturn the parliament's decision.

EU free movement must be curbed, UK says

British leader Theresa May has said free movement of EU workers to Britain cannot continue as in the past, while visiting Slovakia and Poland on Thursday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  2. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  3. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  4. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  5. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  6. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  7. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy
  8. EU-Turkey relations after the coup