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The French ISP ‘Free' is being accused by the rights-holders  of an ‘unacceptable failure to co-operate' as it backs out of sending the first 3-strikes warning emails issued by the Hadopi..  


‘The French law implementing 3-strikes/graduated response measures - also known as the Hadopi law -  is being challenged before it has even got off the ground as the ISP ‘Free' backs out of an agreement and refuses to forward the warning emails to subscribers.


Free decided on Monday this week that it would not transmit the warning emails, which are the first stage of the 3-strikes process under French law. This appears to be a reversal of an agreement which it is understood was made with the French Culture

Ministry, according to a report in the French technology website, Numerama . Under this agreement, it is believed that all the French ISPs, including Free, had agreed to co-operate with the 3-strikes process.


The Minister, Frédéric Mitterand, has been angered by Free's reversal. Mitterand has condemned Free's  decision  and has threatened to issue a decree which will enable a fine to be imposed, as reported by both Numerama and PC Inpact .

The issue appears to be that the law has put in place a fine for ISPs who do not provide user contact details to the Hadopi, but has no fine for ISPs who fail to transmit the emails. Hence the need for a decree to impose the fine on Free. The Hadopi  - the public authority which oversees the law - could install its own mail servers and send the emails itself, but has so far failed to do so, relying instead on the ISPs to do use their servers.


‘Free's  unco-operative attitude has given the rights-holders cause to pressure harder on the government. The French recorded music industry (SNEP)  has called Free's refusal ‘deplorable, and accused Free of recruiting users who commit acts of piracy.


The SNEP also accuses Free of creating distortions of competition to the detriment of other ISPs who respect the law.


This is interesting because, if anything, Free is surely breaking away from a State-sponsored cartel. The SNEP  accusation  belies any attempt by the regulatory authorities to promote a competitive environment where users can switch if they are not happy.




This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) French  ISP Free risks fine over  refusal   to send  3-strikes  emails 7  October 2010


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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