French parliament calls for crackdown on illegal streaming
A report presented to the French parliament has called for swifter punishment for viewers of pirated streaming websites showing live sport and films.
One of the proposals put forward is to offer more sanctioning power to Hadopi, the French anti-piracy authority that has been hamstrung in attempts to punish illegal streamers given the lengthy court action involved.
The ‘Hadopi’ law was introduced in 2009 to disconnect those users suspected of copyright infringement, but was dropped in 2013.
Aurore Bergé of the centrist LREM party and rapporteur of the six-month government study into the digital audiovisual sector, remarked: “People turn to piracy for three reasons: because it’s free, because it’s easy and because there is no penalty.
“We have the technical, technological and legal means to fight against piracy but we have not done so for years because it was not considered a popular topic.”
Last year, a total of 16 million infraction claims were sent by rights-holders to Hadopi but there were only 88 financial penalties handed out. The French parliament is now discussing whether Hadopi could be afforded a power of sanction and avoid going through a judge.
The government study has also recommended an easing of the procedure for rights-holders to receive approval from platforms or internet service providers to block access to pirated sites.
Bergé said: “A football match only lasts 90 minutes. If Twitter replies to a rights-holder that they will do what is necessary within 48 hours, then that has no impact.”
The potential blacklisting of sites by Hadopi is also under consideration.
Piracy cost the French audiovisual sector €1.18 billion ($1.36 billion) in 2017, according to a study by Ernst & Young.
Audiences for soccer are impacted by between 10 and 20 per cent by piracy, according to a report this year from Médiamétrie, ALPA, the French anti-piracy association, and CNC, the government agency for promoting French cinema and audiovisual arts.
The Paris Saint-Germain versus Barcelona Uefa Champions League clash in early 2017 was watched in France by an illegal streaming audience of 332,000 people, according to research. This compared to an average of 1.61 million subscribers on BeIN Sports that watched the round-of-16, first-leg match legally.
The June report also found that over one million acts of sports broadcast piracy are committed in France every month.
Furthermore, 20 of the illegal sties generate 80 per cent of the online piracy in the country and, while the behaviour mainly affects soccer, other sports such as rugby union have also been hit, with the Racing 92-Toulouse game watched by 150,000 people on unauthorised sites.