The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dejean: The French “Three Strikes Law” against digital piracy and the change in usages of pirates


Dejean, S., M@rsouin, Telecom Bretagne


The purpose of this paper is to lead the first study on the effect of the French "three strikes law" against digital piracy. Named "hadopi" and voted by the French parlement in september 2009, the law has been very controversial. The opponent of hadopi claimed that the law was technically wrong, socially unfair and unable to discourage pirates for watching and listening copyrighted contents. The way Internet can be regulated is an important issue in social sciences. The hadopi law gives to the researcher an opportunity to study how online practices fit with the change in the legislation.

2000 people representative of the Brittany region have been interviewed about their online behavior at the end of 2009. We distinguish between different categories of internet users to analyse the change in online pirates practices. The pirates "hadopi" are those who use P2P networks, the "non hadopi" Pirates have illegal practice (illegal streaming and file-hosting services) but don't use P2P networks and the "non" pirates only use legal services (itunes, virginmega, youtube, dailymotion). Our results show that:

1) Few pirates have already changed their habits and stop using P2P networks. Only 15% of pirates have stopped downloading copyrighted contents.

2) There is an interesting shift in the way internet users watch and listen illegal contents. Pirates seem to increasingly use streaming services (legal and illegal) along with file-hosting such as RapidShare and MegaUpload. This services are not covered by the hadopi law and therefore safe to use. According to our study two third of pirates who stop using P2P networks have changed to explore streaming and file-hosting sites.

3) We also show that 50% of legal buyers are pirates ("hadopi" and "non hadopi"). This result exhibits the limit of the legislation which aims to punish the pirate by disconnecting them and can hurt the revenues of the cultural industry. This strategy could reduce the potential demand for legal content which is not the goal pursue by the legislator.

Sylvain Dejean, Thierry Penard, Raphaël Suire