After more than a decade of operations, France’s Hadopi agency will now complete its merger with the Higher Audiovisual Council to create a new and powerful regulator. Following the French parliament’s adoption of a new law last month, the Arcom body will launch in January 2022, tackling everything from illegal streaming and site blocking to the disruption of unlicensed sports broadcasts.
For more than a decade the Hadopi (High Authority for the Distribution of Works and the Protection of Rights on the Internet) anti-piracy agency was France’s official response to the threat of peer-to-peer file-sharing.
The anti-piracy body pioneered the so-called “graduated response” system back in 2010, with Hadopi tracking down copyright infringers using mainly BitTorrent networks and then warning, fining, or even disconnecting them. Over time, however, more convenient methods of illicit consumption (such as streaming) gained traction, putting Hadopi a little behind the times.
New Bill to Tackle Infringement
Back in April, France’s Council of Ministers was presented with a new bill that aimed to more tightly regulate and protect access to cultural works in the digital age. At the forefront is the protection of creators’ rights by tackling sites and services that Hadopi’s graduated response failed to reach.
The plan was to merge Hadopi with the Higher Audiovisual Council (CSA) to create a new regulator, one with greater powers and jurisdiction over the entire field of audiovisual content. The bill was adopted by parliament last month by 49 votes to 4, effectively giving the green light for the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (Arcom).
The new law “on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital age” was officially published this week.
Arcom Will Launch in January 2022
In an accompanying announcement, Hadopi and CSA welcome the publication which effectively “consecrates the birth” of Arcom.
“The creation of Arcom will make it possible to constitute an integrated regulator with extended powers, particularly in the creation chain, from the setting of obligations to the protection of copyright and the fight against piracy. This new authority will also be more in touch with digital issues, the fight against fake news and hate content, and the regulation of subscription video platforms with the obligations incumbent on them,” Hadopi says.
“Far from being a simple juxtaposition of skills, Arcom will thus be the support and the engine of a new public policy by modernizing the exercise of regulation,” Hadopi continues.
“It will thus embody the new model of audiovisual and digital regulation that we are putting in place: regulation that is more attentive to audiences and their concerns, but also resolutely committed to the defense of freedoms of expression, information, and communication of creation.”
Arcom Anti-Piracy Powers
On January 1, 2022, Hadopi will be dissolved and the CSA will take the Arcom name. This new regulator will operate with expanded investigation powers and will be responsible not only for tackling piracy but also for the protection of minors and the fight against disinformation and hatred online.
On the anti-piracy front, Hadopi’s ‘graduated response’ will be adopted by Arcom and the regulator will also focus on illicit streaming, direct download, and linking platforms that profit from the online publication of works in violation of creators’ rights.
Arcom’s key responsibilities will include the management of a “blacklist” of infringing sites. A site can find itself on this database after being labeled a “repeat infringer” in a yet-to-be detailed process. A site appearing on the list will act as a signal for search engines to carry out delistings, advertisers to curtail business deals, or be presented as support for rights holders engaged in legal action.
The new regulator will also establish a system to combat “mirrors”, sites that help to facilitate access to platforms previously blocked following earlier enforcement actions. Measures can include more blocking or search engine delisting.
In addition, Arcom will create a mechanism to deal with piracy of live sporting events, one that is able to cope with ad hoc emergency referrals aimed at quickly preventing access to pirate sports streams. That falls in line with the recent passing of the Digital Services Act proposals by the European Parliament which also envisions rapid 30-minute takedowns.
The new law can be read here
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