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France Issues First Fine For 'Three-Strikes', But He Didn't Do It

Posted by: , 14:40 AEST, Sat September 15, 2012

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First person fined under France's controversial "three-strikes" regime says he doesn't even know how to download things
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The French "Hadopi" regime has fined its first victim, but ironically, the first person fined for breaching France's controversial net copyright laws didn't actually download anything illegal.

France's controversial "three-strikes" Hadopi law first came into effect in October 2010. Under the law, persistent web pirates are given a fine or even the disconnection of their Internet service. It's been nearly two years since Hadopi first went into service, and despite millions being spent on the agency, it is a real surprise that it has taken so long for the first punishment to be dished out. Even more surprising is who the system eventually managed to catch. 

Alain Prevost has the unlucky distinction of being the first person to be officially sanctioned under Hadopi. Prevost, a 40-year old artisan from rural France, had been warned three times prior. Having ignored those warnings because Prevost had not been aware that he had been breaking the law, and having disconnected his own Internet account voluntarily after the second warning (and send a letter via his wife's lawyer to Hadopi to explain the situation), Prevost thought that had been the end of his ordeal.

Instead, Hadopi kept on sending emails to Prevost (he just wasn't able to receive them, since he had no Internet connection), and having received no response from Prevost, Hadopi ordered the man to explain himself in Paris, something Prevost wasn't prepared to do for something so "trivial".

Hadopi would not give up though, and the police was brought into the picture. Prevost was summoned to visit his local police station, and there, he explained what might have happened.

Prevost, who is going through a divorce, told the police that his soon to be ex-wife was most likely the responsible party. Prevost was still summoned to court, and this time, he brought his wife along to testify to the fact that she had been responsible.

But in a bitter twist of irony, Prevost's initial admission that he had not done it at the police proved, in the court's opinion, that Prevost had known about his wife's activities and therefore was still responsible for not securing his Internet connection. Prevost was eventually fined 150 euros, with the prosecutors having asked for a higher 300 euros fine.

After the verdit, Prevost expressed his relieve that the ordeal had ended. "I will not be harassed by the Hadopi group for such things any more. I think they wanted to make an example of me," said Prevost.

Prevost's Kafkaesque ordeal is likely to be the first of many, as Hadopi has 13 other cases that it intends to prosecute at the moment.


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