Study: French three-strikes law did not deter or reduce piracy

In Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law a team of business-school researchers from the University of Delaware and Université de Rennes I examine the impact of the French "three-strikes" rule on the behavior of downloaders. Under the three-strikes law, called "Hadopi," people accused of downloading would be sent a series of threatening letters, and culminating with disconnection from the Internet for a period of a year for everyone in the household. Hadopi is the entertainment industry's model for global legislation, and versions of it have been passed in the UK and New Zealand, and it has also been proposed for inclusion in the global Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty.

The researchers carefully surveyed French Internet users to discover what effect, if any, the Hadopi law had had on their behavior — specifically, whether they were encouraged to download more from legitimate sites and pay more for music as a result of the threat of Hadopi. Their conclusion: [Hadopi] has not deterred individuals from engaging in digital piracy and that it did not reduce the intensity of illegal activity of those who did engage in piracy.

The study found some evidence that determined pirates who are more well-informed about the law may have shifted away from using P2P networks and towards other methods of illegally sharing content, like "direct downloading" sites and newsgroups.

The study is based on self-reported data, coming from a survey of 2,000 French Internet users. The respondents were asked about their views on and knowledge of the Hadopi law.

More than a third—37.6 percent—admitted to illegal downloading, with 22 percent using P2P networks and 30 percent using "alternative channels." About 16.4 percent of those who had engaged in the downloads received a warning from Hadopi, the government agency with the same name as the law it enforces.

Users who were more aware of the monitoring done by the Hadopi regime weren't any less likely to pirate copyrighted material, although there was a slight affect on the "intensity" of downloading. (The researchers asked whether users were likely to use illegal downloading techniques more than once a month or less than once a month.) The overall effect on file-sharing intensity was "negative but insignificant," researchers wrote.

Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law [SSRN]

Study of French "three strikes" piracy law finds no deterrent effect [Joe Mullin/Ars Technica]

(Image: HADOPI, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from goodvibez's photostream)