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France passed a law on digital piracy. FT reports:

Internet users who download films and music without paying for them would get three warnings before being cut off for up to a year. Until now action against illegal file sharing has been a matter for the French courts.

The debate in Europe is not if Internet piracy is legal or not, but whether we uphold the rule of law and make sure that a court has to decide to block a person off the internet, or this can be done by some other authority. Imagine that the highway toll collectors could ban people from using the highways if they though they are transporting fake Gucci bags:

Lawyers say France’s move to cut the courts out of the issue of internet access may contravene the European Convention of Human Rights and could spark conflict with Brussels. Long awaited reform of EU telecoms regulation has been held up by disagreements over whether the courts should be involved.

The bigger issue at stake here is are courts fit for the speed of the digital economy? The French obviously are not. And they are no exception. But the solution to circumvent them goes against more importnat principles of human rights and the rule of law. Besides, it would not hurt the economy if the courts would be more efficient on other matters as well.

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