Illegal download (Arcom): what are the rules?

Verified 20 June 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Amalgamation of CSA and Hadopi

Published on 20 June 2023

CSA and Hadopi have merged since 1er January 2022 to become the Arcom (Authority for the regulation of audiovisual and digital communication).

You would like to know what procedure theArcom (ex-CSA and Hadopi): titleContent if you download works without permission without paying copyright? You want to know if you can be punished?

We give you a definition of illegal downloading and present you the information to know.

There are several techniques for obtaining or accessing works via the Internet.

In particular:

  • The peer to peer or peer to peer sharing. Using a specific software program, you download the sought-after work from other Internet users who have obtained the same work using the same technique.
  • The streaming or stream broadcasting. You listen to a song or watch a movie directly on a website without downloading it.
  • Direct download. A link takes you directly to the desired file. It's stored by one person.

These techniques are not in themselves illegal. They can be used for both legal and illegal offers. The Internet user must ensure their proper use. You will be punished only for the use of the illegal offer.

Please note

legally acquired works can be copied for private purposes. For example, you can copy a purchased DVD and play it on your tablet. That's what we call the private copy.

Illegal downloading is the act of acquiring or accessing works (music, films...) protected by copyright and without the artists and producers being paid in any way.

We also sometimes talk about hacking.

L'Arcom (ex-CSA and Hadopi): titleContent only track illegal use of the peer to peer.

You are concerned if you are the owner of the internet connection used for the illegal download (the one who signed the contract with the internet service provider). Even if you didn't actually download it.

You must therefore ensure that your connection is used properly by yourself and your loved ones, especially your WiFi (wireless) connection. You can find out how to secure your connection with your internet service provider.

The proof will be made not by the downloading itself, but by the unlawful making available of the works. A work downloaded in peer to peer becomes available to other Internet users who use the same technique.

It is forbidden to download without authorization and without paying for artistic works covered by copyright.

Arcom tracks connections that were used for illegal downloading. You will therefore be identified via your service provider.

Within 2 months, after the location, Arcom will send you a recommendation email reminding you of the rules to be respected. The address used is the one registered with your service provider.

This email does not specify which works are concerned. You can approach the Arcom to ask for more details.

If your connection is found again within 6 months of sending the 1er mail, you will receive a new mail plus a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. You will still be able to ask for details about the works concerned.

If a 3eme identification shall be carried out by Arcom within 12 months following 1er mail, you will receive a notification by post informing you that these facts are liable to prosecution.

You will then have 15 days to provide comments. The necessary steps will be specified in the mail.

Your case will then be examined by the Arcom Rights Protection Commission. She may eventually call you in. You can also be heard at your request. In any case, you may be assisted by a person of your choice at your hearing, including a lawyer.

Who shall I contact

The Commission will then decide to drop the proceedings or refer your case to the prosecutor.

The competent prosecutor is the one in your home.

If the case is referred to the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute you before the police court.

If the court is seized, you will be tried for gross negligence, that is, failing to ensure the proper use of your internet connection.

The maximum penalty is €1,500 of fine.

The prosecutor may also make a alternative measure to prosecution as a point of law.

It is possible to check the legality of such or such service through this Hadopi website

Search for a legal offer site (movies, music, books, video games)

Some legal sites have the official labels "PUR" or "Hadopi Legal Offer". However, a site can be legal without having these labels.

Similarly, a free site is not necessarily illegal. There are many legal sites that distribute protected works free of charge. The remuneration of artists and producers is ensured by other means, in particular by advertising.

Conversely, some download sites offer to pay for a subscription but which is not paid to the rights holders. The dissemination of protected works is therefore prohibited.

Who can help me?

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