"Le texte est rejete!"
The French government's Hadopi law to ban file-sharing by cutting people off the Internet has been defeated in a surprise victory for the opposition parties against the ruling Sarkozy regime.
Last Thursday, the law - correctly called the Creation and Internet law - was put to a second vote in the AssembleeGenerale. French Internet campaigners, and the French media who have followed the progress of the law, were ecstatic as the speaker pronounced "le texte est rejete" !
"Alléluia ! C'est un miracle parlementaire ! " said Christian Paul, one of the opposition Parlementarians who had spoken against the law in the debates. " Le Titanic a coulé ! " said the centrist member Jean Dionis du Séjour, who voted with the opposition ( as reported in Liberation ).
The French MEP Guy Bono called it a ‘democratic somersault' and a victory for citizens who fought to preserve democratic values'. Bono linked it to the Telecoms Package process in the European Parliament, suggesting that the Parliament has not yet given in to the pressure from the French government in respect of the user safeguards Amendment 138.
" Ce rejet est une formidable victoire contre la volonté du gouvernement de contrôler Internet, et sur sa politique en la matièr" said Jérémie Zimmermann, of La Quadrature du Net .
But the Rapporteur, Franck Riester, was clearly angry, blaming the opposition for manipulating the situation to create the rejection: "Je suis en colère. Nous avons été victimes d'une manipulation grossière, d'une obstruction bête et méchante des socialistes avec lesquels nous avions pourtant eu un débat sur le fond lors de l'examen du texte."
The composers' collecting society, the SACEM, was unsurprisinly annoyed too: "Ce vote aussi inattendu qu'incompréhensible rappelle un épisode que l'on n'imaginait pas se reproduire à l'issue d'un processus de travail de plus de dix-huit mois..."
The Creation and Internet law sought to bring in a regime for enforcing copyright on the Internet by a series of warnings followed by suspension of Internet access, overseen by a quasi-public authority to be called the Hadopi - hence it is also referred to as the Hadopi law. It was supplemented by draconian measures such as blacklists which were designed to close all the loop-holes against people who would download a copyrighted file.
The vote was the second one by the Assemblee Generale, and would normally be just a formality. The opposition victory was unexpected. The Minister, Christine Albanel, has already said she intends to re-table it, and will resign if it doesn't happen. Liberation states she wants to bring it back as soon as 27 April. Technically, this can be done, however, the opposition spokesman Christian Paul is quoted in Liberation saying that he has been a member of Parliament for 12 years, and has never seen it happen.
So we wait and see whether Hadopi has a second life.