French Court Revises Internet Piracy Law

    June 10, 2009

France’s highest constitutional court has struck down part of a law backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy that was aimed at targeting Internet pirates.

The law was set up as a three-strikes system for copyright violators, who would first receive an email warning, then a letter and ultimately lose their Internet access if they were caught a third time.

Nicholas Sarkozy
Nicholas Sarkozy

The Constitutional Court ruled that " free access to public communication services online" was a human right, and only a judge should have the power to deny a user access to the Internet.

The court said a number of parts of the new law were unconstitutional. "These powers could restrainpeople’s right to express themselves and to communicate freely."

Under the law pirates would have had to keep paying their Internet provider even while they were cut off from the service.

Those who are opposed to the law argued it was double punishment and Internet access should be a fundamental right.

Consumer groups also objected to the law fearing abusive monitoring of online activity and warned that innocent users could be unfairly punished if hackers used their accounts to download files.

Supporters of the law hoped it would drive Internet users away from pirated films and music, towards legal download sites.