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RIAA gives thumbs up to France's three-strike law

Following passage of new law, recording industry's Mitch Bainwol says "pattern is clear" that ISPs will work with with content creators to battle illegal file sharing.

Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the RIAA. Declan McCullagh

France has passed a law that requires Internet service providers to cut off Web access of customers accused of illegally downloading copyright material multiple times.

Last Thursday, the French National Assembly passed the "Creation and Internet" law, which implements a graduated response program similar to one the recording industry is asking ISPs in the United States to adopt.

According to a story in BusinessWeek, the accused are first e-mailed a warning that they have been flagged as a copyright violator. If the person is accused a second time, the pressure is increased. Another warning is sent but this time in the form of a letter mailed to the person's house. A third accusation will trigger the "three-strikes" part of the plan, and the person's Internet access can then be suspended for up to a year.

Two weeks ago, CNET reported that AT&T has begun assisting the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by sending out warning letters for people accused of copyright violations. The company also acknowledged experimenting with sending warnings by way of certified letters to customers' homes. The ISP, however, said it would never shut off anyone's service without a court order.

Mitch Bainwol, the RIAA's chairman and CEO, has never called for government regulation in this country, but said that France's decision to implement a three-strikes law is a sign the relationship between ISPs and copyright owners across the globe is only getting stronger.

"Each country will forge its own solutions to this challenge," Bainwol said in an e-mail to CNET, "but the general pattern is clear. ISPs and the content community are working together in a constructive way to find common solutions that work for all sides."

The move by France's lawmakers comes as creators of content ranging from music to movies to book publishers appear to be taking the offensive against illegal file sharing or Web services they accuse of using their copyright work without permission.

High-ranking newspaper executives this week were critical of Google and Web sites that aggregate news for profiting from news stories without compensating the publications that produced them.

Across the Atlantic, the European Union passed the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, a law that enables copyright holders to obtain a court order that requires ISPs to hand over IP addresses of people accused of infringing on intellectual property.

Police in Sweden last week began making arrests of those accused of breaking the new law.