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French culture minister proposes web-block list in new anti-piracy push

By | Published on Thursday 26 April 2018

Internet

A French minister has proposed launching a piracy blacklist. This would inform internet service providers, search engines and ad agencies which websites are actually naughty copyright infringers. Those companies could respectively block them, de-list them, and ensure their ad spend doesn’t work its way into the pirates’ pockets.

Ten years ago, when the music industry’s top piracy gripe was P2P file-sharing, copyright owners started discussing two possible anti-piracy tactics: three-strikes and web-blocking. The former would see suspected file-sharers being sent stern letters by their ISP threatened disconnection of internet access if file-sharing continued. The latter would see ISPs ordered to block their users from accessing piracy sites.

In the end the latter took off in a much more prolific way. But while three-strikes was still part of the debate, France introduced such a scheme. It was probably the most draconian of all the three-strikes systems introduced – or indeed even considered – although in the end the penalties weren’t quite as harsh or widespread as expected.

But France’s culture minister, Françoise Nyssen, reckons that the three-strikes approach to tackling piracy is now becoming ineffective, because letters are mainly sent to those spotted uploading or downloading copyright material without licence. And – as anti-piracy experts Muso recently noted – pirated content is increasingly being streamed rather than downloaded. But those unlicensed streams aren’t being monitored.

Therefore, according to Torrentfreak, Nyssen is now proposing a web-blocking style system centered on this blacklist, which would be administered by the same government agency as the three-strikes programme.

In some countries, like the UK, copyright owners must go to court each time they have a site they want blocked, securing an injunction that orders the ISPs to instigate the blockade. However, in some countries agencies have been set up – or proposed – to administer web-blocking. In theory this makes it easier to block piracy sites and the proxy domains set up to circumvent the blockades. Although some have expressed concern about agencies having the power to block websites without judicial oversight.

Quite how the proposed French piracy blacklist would work – and what powers the government agency administering it would have to force web-blocks – isn’t clear, although Nyssen says that any list would be regularly updated to cope with new sites and proxies. It might be more like the list of piracy sites maintained by the City Of London Police in the UK, which is provided to payment processors and ad agencies to help them voluntarily avoid providing services and revenue to copyright infringing websites.

Or it could possibly result in much more proactive web-blocking occurring in France, so that – as with three-strikes – French law goes the extra mile in a bid to make it harder for people to access unlicensed content online.

Torrentfreak notes that Nyssen’s comments on the possible blacklist come as her government is under increased pressure from the country’s film industry to step up its anti-piracy activity once again.



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