French filesharers are on the verge of internet termination.
Pending National Assembly approval, French pirates will likely soon see their internet cut off

The war against piracy has largely been a private one.  Some companies like Microsoft attack the problem through software protection schemes.  Some of these draw great public ire, like Electronic Art's DRM protection on Spore.  Still other entities, such as the music industry, and increasingly, the game industry have attacked piracy through litigation.

However, there is a growing movement among government bodies worldwide to take the fight to piracy through legislative and law enforcement efforts.  While these initiatives do seem slightly ironic in their policing of a practice adopted by a large percentage of the populous, the U.S. government and others are charging ahead nonetheless. They are pursing efforts such as the international piracy bill ACTA, which will allow U.S. border patrol agents to seize and destroy citizen's MP3 players and laptops, if suspected of containing pirated files.

One key measure being debated worldwide is the effort to enact legislation cutting off file-sharers' internet -- Australia and Britain considered such legislation.  Now France may become the first to adopt the punitive measure, a show of defiance to an amendment passed earlier this year by the European Union's Parliament banning such cut-offs.

The French Senate voted resoundingly 297 to 15 to support the law, backed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  French President Sarkozy has called the initiative a "decisive moment for the future of a civilized internet".  The new law now only awaits French National Assembly approval, where it is expected to get quickly stamped.

The new law will adopt stinging punishments for pirates.  Those found sharing files by government agents will receive two warning letters, and on the "third-strike" have their internet terminated.  The government expects to receive monitoring support from internet providers.  A new government body to oversee the anti-piracy efforts will also be created.

A slightly different proposal by Bruno Retailleau of the right-wing MPF party, to merely fine offenders was rejected in favor of the harsher punishment of original measure.  Interestingly, the bill united the left and the right with conservatives, centrists and socialists voting against it, and the communist contingent abstaining.  These minority groups, however, were unable to mount meaningful opposition to the bill.

It is unclear how the battle between France and the European Union over cutting off internet pirates will play out.  The EU's ban on such measures, passed in April 2008 called them violations of "civil liberties and human rights."  With over 80 percent of Americans online and similar numbers in Europe, such practices certainly seem a harsh form of punishment.

However, France has its allies -- Sweden is also looking to pass strict new piracy legislation that will help it track and punish pirates.

Meanwhile, pirates might want to consider moving to the southeast from France, as Italy has recently passed a law legalizing P2P file sharing.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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