Creation and Internet Law reduced in strength

MADRID — A Gallic court reduced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s antipiracy law to a toothless tiger on Wednesday.

Approved in May by Sarkozy’s ruling party, France’s Creation and Internet Law created a government agency to track Internet piracy and ordered Internet service providers to cut off access to customers caught illegally downloading content on a three-strikes-and-out basis.

But, citing France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, Gaul’s constitutional court ruled that only judges can sanction offenders. This means the new agency’s powers are limited to issuing warnings.

“You can’t expect the French legal system to cope with minor offenders. It’s just too cumbersome. The law has lost its teeth,” said Francois Godard, at London-based media research service Enders Analysis. “The point of the law was to dissuade people through the threat of sanctions. It’s now back to square one,” he added.

The result has dismayed French indie music producers who “have taken note with regret of the Constitutional Court’s decision,” their representative orgs, SPPF and UPFI, declared in a joint press release.

The ruling is a reverse for Sarkozy and Culture Minister Christine Albanel. The bill was unexpectedly rejected by the French National Assembly in April because few pols turned up for the vote, widely believing that it would pass unimpeded. It was reconsidered and adopted by the Assembly on May 12 and the Senate the following day.

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