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French 'three strikes' ISP law thrown out

France's EU defying "three strikes" law that was intended to pull internet connections of repeat copyright infringers has been severely criticised by the French Constitutional Council and now looks unlikely to proceed.

The French Constitutional Council ripped into the new law, stating that the principle of "Innocent until proven guilty" cannot be overturned by the creation a new non-judicial High Authority.

As part of the proposed "three strikes" law, a 'High Authority' was to be set up that would deal with accusations of copyright infringement.

Under the legislation, copyright owners would have investigated, then submitted infringement complaints to the High Authority - who would have then passed them onto ISPs - who in turn would forward them to customers, disconnecting them after two or more warnings.

While the three strikes law was passed by the French parliament on its second attempt (after initially being voted down), it came unstuck once it went before the French Constitutional Council.

It criticised its 'assumption of guilt' by quoting the French Revolution to highlight their concerns, saying that "...under section nine of the Declaration of 1789, every man is presumed innocent until they have been proven guilty".

Although the initial success of the French three strikes law was held up by the recording industry as a key milestone in its worldwide 'graduated response campaign', the Constitution Councils comments now look set to make any the legislation unworkable.

The Council's censure is likely to require that any disconnections be treated like court cases and that rather than adopting a "guilty until proven innocent approach", alleged repeat copyright infringers are prosecuted on an individual, case by case basis which is expected to be impractical for copyright holders due to the high costs and large amounts of time needed.

This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald