France drops controversial anti-piracy penalty

France has decided to end its controversial policy of cutting off suspected pirates from the internet

France has decided to end its controversial policy of cutting off suspected pirates from the internet.

Although the penalty was never enforced, the government has decided to do away with the provision of an anti-piracy law that allowed regulators to cut off internet service for offenders after three warnings.

Similar provisions in the UK Digital Economy Act were dropped after months of complaints and legal challenges over costs by internet service providers.

Content owners have instead used the Copyright Act to get High Court orders forcing ISPs to block access to infringing sites.

The French law also inspired the “six strikes” copyright alert system in the US, but the French government now admits the penalty is too difficult to enforce, according to Ars Technica.

The US publication quotes French digital minister Fleur Pellerin as saying that, in today’s world, it is not possible to cut off someone’s internet access.

“It’s like cutting off someone’s water,” Pellerin said at a press event in Sweden last week.

The decision followed the publication of a report of more than 600 pages of analysis and recommendations for the future of France’s anti-piracy law and digital policy.

Last year during his election campaign, President François Hollande said he wanted to replace the anti-piracy law with "Act 2 of the Cultural Exception".

This refers to a 20-year-old provision France put into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that allows cultural products such music and film to be treated differently to other commercial products.

The "cultural exception" makes it legal for France to maintain its system of quotas and subsidies for its domestic cultural industry.

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