French gov't passes illegal downloads legislation

Repeat offenders cut off from web for one year

Legislation which will see illegal file sharers disconnected from the internet has been passed by the French National Assembly, despite initially being rejected last month.

Under the Creation and Internet Bill, a new agency will be created by the French government and tasked with identifying illegal file sharers and warning them of their actions by email and letter. If they continue to offend, their internet connection will be blocked for one year.

The bill will now go before the Senate for final approval. If passed, the legislation will make France the first country to give the go-ahead to the 'three-strikes' approach to tackling illegal downloaders.

Whether this will encourage the UK to follow suit remains to be seen. The government is currently working with a number of UK tech and entertainment companies, including Virgin Media, on a strategy to tackle internet piracy. The strategy is expected to be published in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report on June 16.

Industry bodies and trade unions such as the UK Film Council, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) want the strategy to include banning illegal downloaders from the net.

However the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has dismissed the move.

"ISPA is disappointed that the creative industries continue to advocate legislation on enforcement without considering how the complicated licensing processes that many stakeholders believe are at the root of the problem can be reformed," the group said.

"ISPA members have consistently explained that significant technological advances would be required if these measures are to reach a standard where they would be admissible as evidence in court."

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

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