Two-thirds of Irish users face three strikes rule

Two-thirds of Ireland's broadband users could soon be subject to a 'three strikes' policy over illegal file-sharing.

Vodafone, the country's second largest Internet service provider, says it is in “advanced negotiations” with the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) over a 'three strikes' rule on illegal file sharing, according to a report in the Irish Times.

The talks come after IRMA earlier secured the agreement of Ireland's largest ISP, Eircom, to the policy.

Between them, the two ISPs account for nearly two-thirds of Ireland's fixed broadband connections.

Under the 'three strikes' rule, ISPs must hand over the details of subscribers found to be infringing copyright by illegal file-sharing. Users who continue to offend are issued with three warning letters of increasing severity, after which any infringement will lead to temporary disconnection.

Since the system was adopted by Eircom last month, around 800 of the ISP's customers have already received their first strike.

Eircom agreed to implement the policy after reaching an out-of-court settlement with IRMA, which represents record companies EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner. The deal followed action against the ISP over illegal file sharing.

As part of settlement, IRMA promised not to leave Eircom at a competitive disadvantage – which is why the music industry body is anxious to sign up Eircom's closest rival, Vodafone.

IRMA's action was given the go-ahead by a ruling of Dublin’s High Court in April.

A number of Irish ISPs have so far refused to co-operate with the plan. Last month IRMA filed court papers against subsidiaries of O2 and 3Mobile in an attempt to bring them into line. IRMA is set to begin court action against another, UPC, tomorrow.

Ofcom is currently consulting the public over plans to implement a similar rule for UK ISPs.