EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal have sued Ireland’s largest ISP, Eircom, demanding that it install filters to prevent users from illegally sharing or downloading music. The action was admitted by Mr. Justice Peter Kelly to the Commercial Court, meaning that it will be heard on an expedited basis.
Eircom has said that it is not on notice of specific illegal activity that infringed the rights of the companies and has no legal obligation to monitor traffic on its network. Previously the music companies had sought to have Eircom voluntarily install software such as that produced by Audible Magic, which will “fingerprint” music files, but Eircom refused indicating that it could not run that software on its servers.
The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) has previously said that it opposes any filtering of this sort, with General Manager Paul Durrant saying:
“The Association is totally opposed to any obligation (such as that apparently in this Belgian court decision) that ISPs should monitor all of their customers’ Internet communications on the off-chance that someone may be distributing copyrighted work which they do not have permission to use. (How is an ISP, or any other third party, to know whether a communication is copyrighted, who owns the copyright or whether permission has or has not been granted?)
The privacy of all personal and business communications is at stake here. This is the electronic equivalent of the post-office steaming open every letter in the sorting office, checking the contents and never delivering the bits some unknown worker believes should be censored. If legislation forced ISPs to monitor, never mind the democratic or moral issues, in practice everyone would immediatly switch to encryption rendering any such monitoring useless, the monitoring process itself would slow the Internet to an unusable snail’s pace.”
Digital Rights Ireland has condemned this action, saying that it will jeopardise the privacy of internet users, add to the cost of broadband, “overblock” legitimate files, and ultimately be easily circumvented by encrypted peer to peer programs.
Irish Times, Eircom taken to court over illegal music downloads (10.03.2008)
RTE News, Record firms seek to ban illegal downloads (10.03.2008)
Digital Rights Ireland, IRMA v. Eircom – Why ISP filtering for the music industry is a bad idea (11.03.2008)
Paul Durrant (ISPAI), Comment (18.07.2007)
(contribution by TJ McIntyre – EDRi-member Digital Rights Ireland)