A new joint study by researchers from the University of Delaware, University of La Rochelle and the University of Rennes has found that the French "Hadopi" three-strikes regime had little or no effect in changing the behaviour of Internet users with regards to piracy.
The French three-strikes regime, universally known as the "Hadopi" laws after the agency responsible for managing the system, was designed to warn users of suspected infringing activities, and after three warnings, ban these users from the Internet. The laws proved unpopular and controversial, and the government has since moved away from using the harsher "disconnection" penalty, preferring financial penalties as a possible deterrent.
And now, a new study that surveyed 2,000 French Internet users has found the controversial and expensive anti-piracy measure had little effect.
"Consistent with theoretical predictions, our econometric results indicate that the Hadopi law has not deterred individuals from engaging in digital piracy and that it did not reduce the intensity of illegal activity of those who did engage in piracy," the researchers concluded.
Of the 2,000 individuals who self-reported their Internet activities, 37.6% admitted to downloading infringing content. Of these, only 16.4% said they received a warning under the Hadopi system.
Some of those aware of Hadopi had merely shifted their downloading activities to networks not monitored by the graduated response regime, including direct downloads and newsgroups. Others reported a small shift in the intensity of their downloads, although the change was "insignificant", the researchers found.
Those that support Hadopi have pointed to reports, including a recent one, that highlights an increase in music sales in the years since Hadopi was introduced. A recent report highlighted a 20-25% increase in the sale of French music on iTunes, for example. The study also looked into these positive changes, and concluded that far from being the result of tougher legal sanctions, "public educational efforts" of these new and legal digital services had the greated impact on the growth of these services.