Last year the Big Four record labels – EMI Records Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment Ltd, Universal Music Ltd and Warner Music Ltd – commenced legal proceedings against Eircom, Ireland’s largest ISP. The four labels control 90% of Ireland’s music market and decided to pick on Eircom to do something about illicit file-sharing. They demanded that Eircom introduce filtering technology to crack down on pirates, but the ISP refused, hence the court case.
Quantifying its ‘losses’ in court, the four labels claimed illegal downloading costs the Irish music industry 13.8 million Euros every year, and since Eircom has 40 per cent of the ISP market, it must be held responsible for causing the industry losses of between 4 and 5 million Euros. Further details about the case are available in our previous report.
The case, which was due to run for 4 weeks, was cut short this evening after just eight days. According to an RTE report it has ended after a fairly shocking and unexpected development. The ‘Big Four’, headed by the IFPI, have reached an “amicable” settlement with Eircom.
In an agreement believed to be a world first, EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner will start tracking the IP addresses of alleged infringers and supply the details to the ISP. Eircom has agreed that it will ultimately disconnect infringers from the Internet.
Essentially, Eircom has agreed to implement a “3 Strikes” regime against its own customers. On the first allegation the customer will get a warning. On the second allegation they will be informed that if they do not stop their activities, disconnection will follow. On the third, it’s Internet blackout time.
The Chairman of EMI said he now expects other ISPs to follow suit – serious pressure will be brought down on them immediately.