The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Hadopi, the public authority charged with adminstering France’s 3-strikes anti-filesharing law, has just had its third birthday. To mark anniversary, it has released a report covering its activity to date. Interestingly, it reports 1 sole Internet disconnection in 3 years. It also outlines the underlying  bureacratic process, plus an issue with identifying subscribers. A close reading of the  report raises questions about the scale and costs  of implementing 3-strikes measures to enforce copyright online. Can it really provide value for money? 

 Hadopi reports that a total of 1.912 million notifications  were sent to French Internet subscribers in the three years of its operation – 2010-2013. That’s strike one of the process. It has sent out a 186,153 follow-up letters  - that’s strike 2. There has been just one disconnection – that’s strike 3. .

However, we can gain more insights by examining the supporting data. Hadopi actually got over 19 million referrals from the rights-holders who act as ‘agents’ and are tasked with informing Hadopi’s staff about alleged infringing subscribers.

 The interesting question is how did 19 million referrals boil down to just one lonely disconnection?

 Well, in order to be able to contact subscribers, the Hadopi has to go via the Internet Service Providers. Through that process, the 19+ million was reduced to 7.718 million. It seems that the reason was multiple allegations against the same subscriber. That is already a substantial reduction.

 Hadopi then reports that 88% of the allegations were successfully matched against named subscribers. The French IT website Pc Inpact correctly asserts that this means 12%  - 920,000 - could not be identified. Iptegrity has checked the maths and it stacks up.

 Hadopi states that the  difficulty in indentifying individual subscribers is due to  the practice by the ISPs of  using ‘natted’ IP addresses, where the same IP address is attributed to multiple subscribers.

That leaves 6.7 million identified addresses, out of which only 1.9 million  were sent notifications.

Still,  how do we get to 1 Internet disconnection?

Following the  186,453   letters sent for strike 2, there were 663 deliberations internally  by the Hadopi, as to whether or not to submit the cases to the court.  In 9 out of 10 cases, Hadopi says, it refrained from submission. Hence, there were only 51 submissions to the courts for penalties. Most of these appear to have incurred a fine of between $50-600. Just one got the disconnection penalty, for 15 days.

Within that process, there were 44 hearings by the Hadopi in 2012-13. 

Then there’s all the supporting bureaucracy.  In 2012-13, there were 73 210 contacts by phone or email with Internet subscribers  of which 81.73 per cent concerned with the content of the notification. According to another French technology website, Numerama, the reason is that Hadopi   notification does not state the name of the work that has allegedly been downloaded, so subscribers are contacting Hadopi to ask what they are being accused of downloading.

The French technology website Numerama suggests that  Hadopi could include the name of the allegedly downloaded work in the notification as as cost-saving measure.

In addition, there’s the so-called ‘educational’ work that Hadopi is tasked with. This is a separate programme from the 3 strikes measures, and it entails taking the message into schools and educational establishments. Hadopi states that in the 12 months to June 2013, it met with 800 teachers, lecturers and librarians in 530 institutions.

 Hdaopi’s budget for 2012 was €10.1 million, and a similar amount for 2011. The figure reflects cuts already made by the Hollande government:  Hadopi budget to be slashed as French review 3-strikes

 The Hollande government wants to incorporate Hadopi within the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA).  Effectively, it would no longer exist as an institution, but the measures it oversees could carry on. This could be in part a money-saving measure, getting rid of a layer of bureaucracy. Of course, it means that Hadopi loses face and influence,, and Hadopi staff are fighting against it.

 All of this will provide food for thought for the British government. Hadopi is a state-funded institution, with control over what it does. The consumer pays indirectly via taxation, of which it is a very small component.

 When you split up those functions between different private actors, the administrative complexity increases and with that, the costs. I’ve previously argued that the costs in Britain could  be higher than originally predicted (see The 84 million-a-year bill for DE Act ). Who  really wants pay for this? And how will it be passed on to the consumer?

 

For an account in English of the French anti-filesharing law  that established the Hadopi, please see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma

For an account of the Digital Economy Act in Britain, please see my new book A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms

 This is an original article from Iptegrity.com and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content, please cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, 2013,  Hadopi turns three – bon anniversaire?. 14 October 2013.  Commercial users - please contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten, European expert on Internet policy and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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