Hadopi, a serious danger to French competitiveness
By bblfish on Apr 15, 2009
The last minute provisional rejection of the HADOPI law in France last week (it will go back for a vote on the 29th April), has given a new life to the debate here. The law, which is perhaps best explained on the French Wikipedia page, will give if passed, the power to Copyright holders to point out infringing ip addresses to a new higher authority (HADOPI) which will have the power to cut off internet connections after 3 warnings.
There are a huge number of privacy issues here, perhaps best illustrated by the possibility of someone using a p2p network to send themselves a copy of their legally purchased content. Furthermore as it is extreemly easy to infringe copyright - as the Baby dancing to Prince video case illustrates - this law will create a background atmosphere of fear which will have serious consequences on the ability to create new services.
This fear will lead outfits - cafés, libraries, hotels - that provide public access points to the internet, to demand some white list of acceptable content providers which they can allow their users access to without the danger of being cut off. The creation of such a list is extreemly expensive: certainly a lot more expensive than the profits the copyright holders may have gained by selling content to penniless teenagers. (Those of us that do have money, are happy to pay for the quality guarantees provided by pay for services. I'd rather pay a few $1 than be interrupted in the middle of a pirated movie by missing scenes, badly recorded music, or porn...). So there will be no justification to pour a lot of money into very complete white lists. Getting added to such lists will be a time consuming political game.
As a result startups that come up with new innovative services, being low budget idea driven companies, these will of course not have the money to play these advanced political games. Starting up in France will therefore be difficult or impossible. With much larger markets abroad - in the USA for example - the path to growth there will be clear. When these startups have then turned into billion dollar US companies, they will find it relatively easy to pay for the HADOPI political game and return to France. A loss to french entrepreneurship nevertheless.
This is not the first time this happened. Something similar happened with cryptography in the 90ies. France by severely restricting the strength of its keys, handicapped all of its ecommerce industry in the competition with the US, whose citizens were allowed to use any strength they wanted to. These laws were repelled in 1999 after much damage to its industry. Freedom is not just a cultural issue of fundamental importance. It is also the life blood of a dynamic economy.
- The above are my own opinions, and not those of Sun Microsystems.
- This article is published CC attribution, as all other articles on this blog. Please feel free to copy and translate. I do in fact read, write and speak french fluently, but my french spelling and grammar is just too rusty from lack of use, that I did not want to impose this on my readers