France ends three-strikes internet piracy ban policy

Illegal download
Image caption The three-strikes scheme had been criticised as being expensive to run and ineffective

France has halted an anti-piracy policy that threatened persistent offenders with internet bans.

A law passed by the previous government had let local courts suspend copyright infringers' connectivity for up to a month if they were caught three times.

It was supported by the entertainment industry, but France's current culture minister had said that she thought the penalty was "disproportionate".

File-sharers still face fines of up to 1,500 euros ($1,923; £1,292).

The government added that it would now focus its efforts on sites that made money from offering illegally copied content rather than individual users.

One suspension

Under the previous scheme, a state agency, known as Hadopi, sought out individuals guilty of illegally copying content and sent them warning emails and letters.

If the first two messages were ignored, the agency could summon the suspected offender to an interview - and if it still was not satisfied it referred them to a judge.

A report published in February revealed 1.6 million first warnings and 139,000 second warnings had been sent out and 29 cases had been passed to the courts.

However, to date the judges have only ordered one person's net access to be suspended - a 43-year-old accused of copying music by Rihanna, the pop group Collectif Metisse and the French movie Heartbreaker.

The ruling said he should be cut off from the net for 15 days.

A government-commissioned study last year recommended that Hadopi be scrapped altogether and its powers transferred to another regulator to help save costs.

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