12 July 2013

Germany and France change counterfeit laws

Germany is upping the stakes on piracy whilst France has changed direction.

By Charlotte Mullen

France drops its 'three-strike' piracy system Mopic

The German parliament has introduced new measures to combat piracy and the production of counterfeit goods. No longer a minor offence, the new standard penalty for breaching commercial trademark laws is a three-month prison sentence. Previously the law imposed a minor fine.The German government is taking steps to ensure counterfeiting is no longer a profitable business – although it is not planning to prosecute consumers for the purchasing and resale of pirated products. The changes to the legislation follow concerns that counterfeited goods can carry health risks to consumers.  

US limits internet access

Meanwhile the US, in February of this year, began an anti-piracy campaign that saw a Copyright Alert System (CAS) issue six warnings to potential copyright infringers before limiting the internet access of repeat offenders by working with the national internet service providers. This campaign was not without controversy, however, and this week, according to the Guardian, the French government has revoked its own similar ‘three-strike’ piracy law. The ‘Hadopi’ law has been scrapped, in response to increased pressure from the entertainment industry and a torrent of controversy sparked after a declaration from the Constitutional Council asserting that internet access is a basic human right.

Automated fines

The new system would see offenders receiving automated fines, beginning low (€60) and increasing if more infringements were made. It replaces the ‘three-strikes and you’re out’ concept which was introduced in 2009 under the then President Nicolas Sarkozy. It allegedly cost the French government millions to install and maintain.  
‘By defending copyright I do not just defend artistic creation, I also defend my idea of a free society where everyone's freedom is based on respect for the rights of others’, said Mr Sarkozy in 2009 in defence of the Hadopi law.

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