France leads the way in common sense

November 26, 2007 // 9:30 a.m.

Tags: #file-sharing #france #law #online #p2p #privacy #torrents

The BBC is reporting that France has just passed legislation that returns a bit of common sense to the world of casual online piracy. Instead of being sued for hundreds of millions or sent away to serve longer sentences than rapists or drug dealers, the crime of swapping a few songs or movies online will first be a slap on the hand and being told not to do it again, then if they persist they will have their Internet access revoked.

From the BBC: Denis Olivennes, head of the French chain store FNAC, who chaired the committee said current penalties for piracy - large fines and years in jail - were "totally disproportionate" for those young people who do file-share illegally.

As great as this sounds, it also means that the new law will allow Internet service provides to quietly nose traffic being sent and received by customers and forward persistent offenders to an independent watchdog that confirms the informations and passes the details onto the fuzz.

The enterprising among you will already have deciphered ways around this, such as certain types of encryption, but it does mean that the laymen is more likely to get caught if ISPs are now sniffing the packets that directly pass under their noses. We know that simply banning file sharing doesn't work as there are plenty of legitimate uses for it and no doubt privacy advocates will be along shortly to voice concern about the invasion of our data.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is behind the law, of which, part of it is to bring Movies to DVD faster and to encourage DRM-free music to be more widely available.

So is this a good thing - the punishment finally mirrors the crime committed, rather than having the four letter MAFIAA suing everyone randomly for big numbers, or is it just another erosion of complete online privacy at the expense of law enforcement for a few content producers? What about if you "borrow" a neighbour's WiFi connection - is wireless encryption now a legality? Or what about free hotspots? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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