French Say "Au Revoir" to Online Piracy
In France, those that have grown accustomed to downloading free, illegal music and videos from the internet have found themselves facing stricter government warnings and fines. Since the inception of the 2009 HADOPI law, which promotes the distribution and protection of creative works on the internet, French officials have noticed a sharp decline in illegal file-sharing. The three-warning system, which by the end of 2011 had sent out 822,00 warning e-mails, 68,000 second warnings, and 165 cases where offenders have been fined around $2,000 (USD), has had an immense impact on the music and film industries in France. Following the implementation of the law, French music industry revenues have been stabilizing, digital sales markets are growing, and iTunes sales have risen more strongly than in any other European country, most notably by bringing an extra €13.8 million a year worth of iTunes music sales into the economy.
Although the law has received praise from the music and film industries, HADOPI has also experienced intense opposition from advocates of a more open internet. Building on the momentum from the successful campaigns in the United States to defeat two congressional bills focused on minimizing online piracy, protests against the law have intensified. Rivals of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has expressed broad support for the law, have claimed that HADOPI infringes on their civil liberties and has increased the use of virtual private network software for online anonymity. Additionally to the protests, political opponents of Sarkozy in the upcoming French presidential election have proposed alternatives to HADOPI. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, has suggested the change to a global license that provides consumers with free content, while simultaneously remunerating artists in other ways, such as revenue from new taxes.
In spite of the law’s opposition, the success of HADOPI has inspired similar movements throughout the European Union and around the world. In Sweden, music sales rose 10 percent in 2009 after the government tightened its copyright laws. South Korea has similarly seen music sales rise 12 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011 since they enacted stronger anti-piracy laws in 2009. Following these statistics, Britain has also adopted a three-strikes law for illegal downloading, although this law has yet to be implemented. All in all, the movement against illegal file-sharing is beginning to catch fire around globe, providing payment not only for artists, but also for economies in need of additional sources of income.