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Internet watchdog claims success

Hadopi says illegal downloads through peer-to-peer networking is reduced - although streaming sites see rise in numbers

INTERNET piracy watchdog Hadopi has reported a noticeable decline in the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking since it started to target users stealing illegal copyrighted material such as films, music and games.

It said its "graduated approach" was paying off - however other internet monitors reported a switch to other methods of getting files.

The government agency had commissioned a study to assess the "real effects" of its actions taken over the past year and a half.

It said usage by people in France of the four major peer-to-peer clients (BitTorrent, uTorrent, eMule and Limewire) decreased by 29% in 2011, with just more than three million French people using these file-sharing clients in December 2011 against 4.5 million a year earlier.

Hadopi uses a three-strike system once a complaint is received from a copyright holder. Offending users are initially sent a warning e-mail and have their connection monitored for six months. Persistent offenders geta further warning letter and if this is ignored their internet connection is cut for between two months to a year.

The agency says the cut in P2P usage is due to these warning emails: "The receipt of a piracy warning leads to a behavioural change among the vast majority of recipients."

It says the decrease could mean that the French have turned to legal downloads.

However, internet monitoring website Médiamétrie said that while it confirmed the reduction in P2P usage it also noted an increase in visits to illegal streaming and download sites such as FileSonic, FileServe, VideoBB, PureVID and MixtureVideo.

These have seen visits increase from 6.5 to 8.3 million unique users in France.

Legal music providers such as iTunes and Spotify have also seen increasing visitor numbers, with Spotify growing from 155,000 to 653,000 users in just two years.

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