French "Three Strikes" Law Unexpectedly Thrown Out

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In an incredible turn of events, the French HADOPI legislation, which seemed certain to become law, has been thrown out:

French lawmakers have unexpectedly rejected a bill that would have cut off the Internet connections of people who illegally download music or films.

The legislation would have also created the world’s first government agency to track and punish those who steal music and film on the Internet.

The contested bill had initially passed the lower house of parliament last week. Few lawmakers appeared for Thursday’s vote to finalize the measure.

When the vote was held in a near-empty National Assembly, the bill was rejected by a vote of 21-15.

The music and film industry had supported the bill, aimed at boosting industry receipts and cracking down on illegal downloading.

Of course, this is by no means the end of the battle, but if you'd asked me last week what were the chances of this happening, I would have said vanishingly small. It's too early to tell exactly why the vote went the way it did – whether it was just a brilliant fluke or whether French politicians have finally realised the enormity of condemning people to being without an Internet connection for a year purely on the say-so of a media companies.

In any case, it's a hugely important win, since it rather takes the wind out of the sails of all those, both in Europe and the US, who saw HADOPI as the model to be exported to legislatures all around the world.

Never a dull moment in this copyright stuff....

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