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The French Are Soon to Vote on a New Anti-Piracy Bill That Includes a Blacklist Mechanism

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A new law is soon to be reviewed and decided upon by the Council of Ministers in France, aiming to modernize the legal context that underpins the protection of access to cultural works. The bill focuses mainly on practical and technical challenges that arise from the digital age that we live in and how public access to French cinematographic and audiovisual works can be regulated effectively.

The first pillar of the new bill is to get more aggressive against websites that make a profit out of piracy. The proposal is to create a “blacklist” that will be populated with platforms that are known for regularly violating copyrights and then connect it with a blocking mechanism. This way, ISPs in the country will be able to block pirate sites and all their mirrors without having to go through a tedious legal procedure and acquiring new blocking orders.

The second part of the text describes creating a new regulator that will come through a merger of the High Authority for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet (HADOPI) and the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA). This new entity will be called the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (ARCOM) and will be given greater powers and jurisdiction to govern the entire field effectively. ARCOM won’t be responsible only for fighting piracy but also for protecting the public against disinformation and hate speech, as well as protecting minors from various online dangers.

And thirdly, the bill suggests that in the cases that foreign entities purchase French works, these will have to remain accessible to the French public at all times because they are essentially part of the country’s cultural heritage. The bill suggests that adding this safeguard helps in forging a strong cultural identity among the French, which is a fundamental issue these days.

All in all, the ideas proposed by the new bill aren’t new or ground-breaking, and there’s a large margin for abuse that could lead to widespread censorship online. We’re not saying that this is the lawmakers’ goal, but the fact that details about how the system is protected against such cases are missing from the bill isn’t helping.

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