HADOPI is an acronym of the French government agency “Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet”, which was created by the so-called ‘HADOPI law’ in 2009. Its main aim is to screen internet connections in France to prevent the exchange of copyrighted material without prior agreement from the copyright holders. If a copyright holder complains a copyright infringement, HADOPI may initiate a so-called ‘three-strike’ procedure: (1) an email message is sent to the alleged offender. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) is then required to monitor his/her internet connection. In addition, the alleged offender is invited to install a filter on his internet connection. (2) If, in the six months following the first step, a repeat offense is suspected the second step of the procedure is invoked: A certified letter is sent to the alleged offender with the same content as of the initial email. (3) If the offender fails to comply during the year following the reception of the certified letter, and upon accusation of repeated offenses, the third step of the procedure is invoked. (3) The ISP is required to suspend internet access for the offender for a period of from two months to one year.
HADOPI started its operations on October 1st 2010 and a report entitled “Hadopi, 11/2 Year After The Launch” on the effects of the graduated response measures since the first warning email was sent out, was published at the end of March 2012 (click here for the French version of the report). In the following I would like to sum up the results of the report from the music usage’s perspective.
The report unveils that 755,015 internet subscribers (owner of IP-addresses) received an initial email-notification between October 1st, 2010 and December 1st, 2011. 95 percent of these subscribers stopped then their infringing behavior. However, the rest of 37,751 of subscribers continued to share copyrighted material in P2P-networks and via filehosters. Therefore, they received the afore mentioned certified letter to stop the infringing behavior. For 92 percent of those receiving the second notification no further infringing behavior was recorded. Vice versa, 3,020 internet subscribers continued their illegal behavior and got a third and last notice. 98 percent of those immediately stopped their copyright infringement behavior. However, a hard core of 60 internet users were not prepared to stop their infringing use of copyrighted material even after receiving the final graduate response message. These are the figures presented in the report. They show that the graduaded response scheme has a deterrent effect on alleged file-sharers. However, the question remains if HADOPI has an overall negative impact of file-sharing, file-hosting and similar practices in France.
Therefore, the HADOPI report also tries to measure the impact of its activities on the scale of file-sharing in France in the observed period. The report presents results from four different studies. A Nielsen study (see also IFPI, Digital Music Report 2012), which was commissioned by the ‘International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’ (IFPI), concluded that between January 2011 and December 2011 the audiences of fourty P2P service offering links to P2P files and applications dropped in France by 17 percent from 5.0 million to 4.2 millionen unique visitors.
In a Mediametrie//Netratings report the number of unique visitors of four P2P file-sharing systems – µTorrent, BitTorrent, eMule and LimeWire, was screened for France in the period of February 2011 to December 2011 and a 29 percent drop in audience of the observed file-sharing networks was measured.
Peer Media Technologies measured a drop of 43 percent in sharing of a sample of 200 to 300 recent films on P2P networks in France over 2011. In another study by ALPA/TMG the number of downloads of the top 10 most detected films decreased in France by 66 percent over 2011.
In addition, the HADOPI report cites also a self-conducted survey (a representative online survey with 1,500 internet users aged 15 and above) that “[m]ore than 1 out of 3 respondants stated that HADOPI gives them reason to more regularly consume cultural works via websites that comply with copyright law”. A similar study by IPSOS (online survey with 1,380 internet users aged 15 to 50) comes to the conclusion that “71% of peer-to-peer users state that they would stop downloading illegal content if they received a recommendation from Hadopi” (p. 6).
The HADOPI report comes, therefore, to the conclusion that “[t]hese observations all reflect a shared tendency to move away from this from of illegal downloading since the graduaded was introduced (…)” (p. 2). However, on p. 7 results of the Mediametrie//NetRatings’ study are highlighted, that show a stability in usage patterns from December 2010 to December 2011, if file hosting site are also included in the analysis. The HADOPI report states: “[While some services enjoy an increase in their audience, others have seen a drop, possibly attesting to a degree of balance in practices.” Therefore, one should be cautious to state a decreasing impact of HADOPI on file sharing and file hosting activity in France. All studies cited in the HADOPI report do not directly address the impact of the introduction of HADOPI and the scale of file-sharing and file-hosting. There is of course room for further research on this question.