Lonely ISP Wants Other Providers To Disconnect Pirates

Having originally resisted the notion that it should stop its subscribers sharing copyright works, in a little under 4 years Ireland's ISP Eircom has come completely about-face. Not only did it come to a private agreement with the music industry to implement a 3 strikes-style regime, but now its asking other ISPs to join them in doing so. It's lonely being this kind of 'pioneer', especially when it puts your company at a commercial disadvantage.

In 2008, the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) took legal action against Eircom, Ireland’s largest ISP.

The so-called Big Four labels – EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – wanted the ISP to install proactive filtering technology aimed at stopping unauthorized file-sharing among Eircom’s customers. Eircom refused, IRMA sued, and the case ended up in court – but not for very long.

At the 11th hour in February 2009 the companies came to an agreement which would see Eircom introduce a graduated response system for dealing with errant subscribers.

However, Eircom needed something in return. The agreement had left Eircom in the unenviable position of being the only ISP in Ireland with an official policy of disconnecting customers on the mere allegations of the music industry.

But the first recording industry target, ISP UPC, refused to play ball and after being sued it eventually won its case.

While the labels did ‘reward’ Eircom’s compliance with the MusicHub service, the product has been labeled lacklaster and when PaidContent asked how many users the service had, Eircom refused to tell them.

So with Eircom now at a commercial disadvantage and no immediate sign that the industry will force any other ISP to implement 3 strikes, the ISP is being left to go it alone. In making the best out of a bad situation it’s now describing what it is doing as an “obligation”.

“Eircom is of the view that these obligations are part of a role that all responsible companies must serve,” Eircom’s consumer managing director Stephen Beynon said.

Eircom insist that they want to respect their customers’ right to privacy but from fighting IRMA in 2008/9, they now believe that other ISPs should do as they have done, and do a deal with the recording group.

“We think that it would be better for everyone if the industry and the rights-holders found a way to tackle this problem. It’s not going to go away. The current situation is not ideal but we could create something that moved the issue forward if we worked together,” Beynon added.

Or in other words, the water’s great, come on in.

Beynon says that Eircom believes it has an obligation to uphold the law when illegal activity is brought to its attention but it’s taking the word of a private P2P tracking company as final and there is no judicial oversight, something that causes controversy in every jurisdiction it’s suggested.

It’s interesting to note that if Eircom had held its ground back in 2008 when it was sued by the labels to proactively filter subscriber upload data, by now it would have heard Europe’s highest court dismiss what they were being asked to do as illegal.

Had they known that in 2009, would they have felt so compelled to do the 3 strikes deal?

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