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French illegal downloads agency Hadopi may be abolished

The French police service set up to stop illegal downloads may be abolished, as the new French Government said it has failed to meet its aims.

The French Government is set to shut down its police service into illegal downloads, after the new government described the service as "expensive", "disproportionate" and failing to achieve its aims.

French Hadopi agency may soon be abolished.(France Flag Map image by Lokal_Profil, public domain)

The agency, Hadopi, was set up in 2009 by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to run a "three-strikes" policy that would see illegal downloaders stopped from using the internet for one year after three offences.

According to recent statistics, Hadopi has sent 1 million warning emails, 99,000 "strike two" letters and identified 314 people for referral to the courts for possible disconnection. No one has actually been disconnected.

According to Aurelie Filipetti, culture minister in the new French Government, Hadopi has been nothing but a waste of money.

"€12 million per year and 60 officials; that's an expensive way to send 1 million emails," Filipetti said. "Hadopi has not fulfilled its mission of developing legal downloads. I prefer to reduce the funding of things that have not been proven to be useful."

Filipetti also described the three-strikes penalty as "disproportionate".

According to Variety, there is some evidence that Hadopi's existence did slow piracy in France. One claim suggested that consumer awareness of Hadopi caused iTunes music sales to increase by around 25 per cent in France; a growth rate better than that in other European territories.

The new French President Francois Hollande has vowed to focus on commercial piracy rather than individuals.