Three Strikes May Stall EU Law

Bickering over the three strikes rule may well stall European Union telecom reform, although it’s only a small part of a massive package.

The French national assembly was to take a second look at the three strikes law at the end of April, but a growing number of European parliamentarians are unhappy that those who allegedly download music illegally could be disconnected without a fair hearing.

Under the proposed French legislation, named the “Internet And Creation Law,” consumers who illegally download music would be cut off after being caught a third time. The national government would help create an agency to monitor the situation and disconnect offenders.

But there’s a clause in the proposed EU telecoms package that says offenders would first need to be convicted in a court of law.

The European parliament and European council agree to include some language supportive of a three strikes policy for disconnecting copyright infringers, but they’re still a long way from agreeing on what it should say or even where it should go.

It seems to be a question of whether to put the three strikes legislation within the actual law – provided it says only legally recognised authorities can authorise disconnection – or include it as part of the bill’s explanatory notes. It seems a strange disagreement as either location would still make it legally binding.

This has left some commentators speculating whether the whole telecoms package should be shelved until after the next round of parliamentary elections, which could change the composition of the legislature. Others argue that it would be simpler to cut three strikes out of the reforms and deal with it as a separate issue.