French HADOPI publishes its report on the means of combating online infringement

On 25 February 2013, HADOPI, the French administrative body in charge of the so-called three-strikes procedure has published its long awaited report on online piracy, specifically offering some solutions to combat the streaming and downloading of infringing content.

The report includes numerous proposals including:

–       Redefining the scope of Section L.335-2-2 of the French IPC – currently providing sanctions against publishers of software manifestly intended for infringement – to include online services manifestly dedicated to infringing activities. This could include cyberlockers and indexing platforms.

–       Adapting sanctions to the role actually played by each actors in the “infringing chain”, distinguishing, specifically, uploaders/providers of infringing content – who should be fully liable for copyright infringement – from mere “consumers” of such contents – whose liability should be attenuated and addressed through educational rather than punitive measures

–       Increasing the efficiency of the notice and takedown system by requiring hosting providers, either on a voluntary basis, or, if necessary, on a compulsory basis, to take down and keep down any notified infringing content

–       Creating an alert system targeting hosting providers and other internet intermediaries who repeatedly fail to comply with such obligations

–       Having the various Internet intermediaries intervening in the processing and transmission of infringing content (ISPs, search engine, linking sites, hosting providers, advertisers and financial services) to get more involved in the fight against infringement. These measures would include, among others, the obligations for hosting providers to take down and keep down notified content, for search engine to un-reference infringing content and for financial and advertising services to stop providing their services to websites exclusively dedicated to infringing activity.

If some of these measures seem to echo some of the controversial proposals included in the U.S. SOPA bill of last year, it remains to be seen how these measures will be received by the French legislature and more broadly by the public. [Béatrice Martinet Farano]