France To Disconnect Online Pirates; DRM Restrictions Might Go

If US digital liberties campaigners think they’ve got it bad with an RIAA so active in lobbying digital copyright policy, wait until they hear about France’s next move. President Nicolas Sarkozy has endorsed a law creating an agency to find hardcore P2P music and movie file sharers amongst data ISPs would be compelled to hand over about their highest-volume customers. The body would give offenders two warnings, but three strikes and they risk having their net connection yanked, says.

It’s a proposal produced out of a review by France’s Fnac entertainment retail chain chairman Denis Olivennes – in other words, one of the people with one of the biggest vested interests in the health of physical-format entertainment sales. His book, Free Is Theft, released in February, is pretty much the antithesis of Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture doctrine. says the French music industry has already decided to drop DRM on archive material and release DVDs more quickly in an attempt to combat piracy. But even some members of Sarkozy’s own UMP party argue this proposal “contravenes the principle of equality before the law”. It may be a particularly acute problem in France, however, where some hope to convince the many concerned about the decline of French culture that online piracy reduces funds for domestic media production.

Reuters: The deal also creates obligations for film and music companies, who pledge to make their works available online more quickly and to remove interoperability and DRM barriers.

Variety: Whether the scheme can be exported is another matter. In the U.K. and Spain, industry bodies have been lobbying with little success for ISPs to support a crackdown on unauthorized Internet downloading. Online piracy is driving Internet broadband takeup in Spain, hence ISPs reluctance.