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[Warren's Washington Internet Daily] A measure allowing cut-off of Internet access to suspected peer-to-peer pirates

A measure allowing cut-off of Internet access to suspected peer-to-peer pirates passed France's Parliamentary Assembly (lower house) late last Thursday, said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for civil liberties group La Quadrature du Net. The "graduated response" provision -- also called "three-strikes" -- is part of the "Creation and Internet" anti-piracy bill that won Senate approval last year. It allows a state agency to order termination of Internet service for up to one year for those caught infringing copyright, he said. However, lawmakers killed a provision that would have forced users whose service was terminated to continue paying their subscription fees, he said. International Federation for the Phonographic Industry Chairman John Kennedy said the legislation will result in "very sensible and achievable actions by ISPs" to cut piracy in ways that are preventative, not punitive. IFPI has lobbied hard for ISPs to shoulder more responsibility for Internet piracy, but France's three-strikes approach is deeply unpopular with the European Parliament (WID Feb 23 p1) and continues to roil negotiations on major reforms to EU e-communications rules (WID April 1 p1). The bill has been has been handled under an emergency procedure which allows only one debate in each house, Zimmermann told us. The Assembly version is slightly different from the Senate's, so they now go to a panel of lawmakers from each house for compromise before April 9, after which they'll be formally adopted, he said. The changes to the three-strikes article are minor, he said, and include shortening the minimum time for disconnection to two instead of three months. The amendment relieving users from having to pay for Internet services that have been shut off still requires them to pay for phone and TV services in triple-play packages, something likely to anger operators, Zimmermann said. The whole scheme remains "unacceptable," he said. The law can be challenged in the Constitutional Court, but it takes 60 MPs from one group to do it, he said. The Socialists have the numbers, but they must file the appeal before Parliament leaves for vacation April 11, he said. There are "hundreds of ways to challenge the law" if the appeal is done right, he said. Removing one piece of the legislation could cause the rest to crumble, he said. But even if the access-termination provision ultimately fails, countries considering a graduated approach to online piracy will likely look to other sanctions, such as fines or filtering, that create equally bad problems, he said. -- DS

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