French Internet Piracy Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Dennis Faas's picture

France's plan to cut off the Internet connections of digital pirates has been defanged by the country's highest constitutional body, who called the law unconstitutional.

France's Constitutional Council reviews legislation that has been approved by Parliament before it goes into effect. The core portion of  the controversial "three-strike" law could have created a new agency that, under the orders of copyright owners, would have the authority to order Internet service providers to shut down the accounts of copyright cheats who ignored two warnings to stop pirating. (Source:

Law Contrary to French Constitutional Principles

The council found the proposed law contrary to French constitutional principles like presumption of innocence and freedom of speech, especially since the Internet is important for the participation in democratic life and expression of ideas and opinions, as well as the online public's freedom to access communication services. (Source:

The controversial legislation was originally outlined a year and a half ago by President Nicolas Sarkozy. The legislation was rejected by the National Assembly -- the lower house of parliament in April -- but was approved by Parliament last month.

Warning letters will begin going out to illicit downloaders in the autumn, but the legislation is toothless without the threat of disconnection, which will have to be approved by the courts. More information can be found at Ars Technica and The New York Times.

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