Music Biz Set To “3 Strike” Two-Thirds of Irish Broadband

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Keeping its promise to Ireland's largest ISP, Eircom, the music industry has targeted the country's second largest ISP, Vodafone. According to a new report, Vodafone is in talks with the Irish Recorded Music Association about issuing warnings and eventually disconnecting its file-sharing customers. Since its introduction last month, around 800 Eircom customers have already received their first strike.

Following last year’s out-of-court settlement with Ireland’s largest ISP Eircom, in May IRMA – representing EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – confirmed the pair would start tracking, warning and disconnecting alleged file-sharers.

Using data gathered by Danish company DtecNet, IRMA said it would begin supplying Eircom with suspected infringing IP addresses for a 3 month pilot period. Thus far, Eircom has sent around 800 warnings to its customers.

Part of that out-of-court settlement was a promise from IRMA that it would not leave Eircom at a competitive disadvantage. Clearly, once word spread that Eircom is a ‘bad’ ISP for file-sharers, potential customers would see huge benefit in choosing another ISP. To avoid this eventuality, last month IRMA filed papers against mobile operators O2 and 3 for their apparent non-cooperation.

Not everyone is digging their heels in though. Two other mobile ISPs, Vodafone and Eircom subsidiary Meteor, said they were in “advanced negotiations” with the IRMA to bring the graduated response to their networks.

Today there is further news that IRMA is well on its way to soaking up the majority of the Irish market with its “3 strikes” (technically a 4 strikes) scheme, this time by targeting Eircom arch-rival, Vodafone. Market leader Eircom has been in a price war with No 2 player Vodafone for quite a while now, so any action IRMA takes against the ISP will be warmly welcomed by Eircom. It’s even more convenient for them that Vodafone is playing along nicely.

According to a report in the Irish Times quoting IRMA Chairman and EMI Ireland chief executive Willie Kavanagh, “significant progress” had been made with Vodafone in negotiations to bring file-sharing disconnections to the ISP.

In a statement, Vodafone said that file-sharing represents a “serious issue for the Irish music industry” and that it is looking at introducing “appropriate steps” consistent with “applicable legislation and recent judicial decisions”.

The “judicial decision” refers to April’s ruling from Dublin’s High Court which effectively gave the music industry the go ahead to start warning and disconnecting file-sharers.

Getting Vodafone on board would be a significant success for IRMA. Eircom and Vodafone control almost two-thirds of all Ireland’s fixed broadband connections.

Another ISP, UPC, continues its refusal to introduce disconnections for its customers. Tomorrow it will face the start of action in the Commercial Court brought on by the music industry.


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