France Warns 100K Illegal Downloaders Sarkozy's anti-piracy campaign gets into gear By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Dec 29, 2010 6:37 PM CST 8 comments Comments French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a December 17 file photo. He's pushing the anti-piracy campaign. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) (Newser) – France's campaign to stop illegal downloads is well under way, with the program nicknamed Big Brother sending out warning emails to 100,000 people so far, reports the Guardian. Repeat offenders—whose details are gleaned through service providers—face fines and banishment from the web for a year. It's a pet program of President Nicolas Sarkozy and his singer wife Carla Bruni as a way to protect artists, though critics say it's a violation of civil liberties and ineffective to boot. The French newspaper Le Figaro has published replies from some of those caught so far, including this gem: "It's true, I downloaded an episode of this [unnamed] series. I had no choice, I'd followed the whole season, I was hooked. ... I won't do it again, but please just let me download the last episode of the series."