Irish Isps Reject Music Industry's File-Sharer Demands

Irish internet service providers (ISPs) have rejected claims that they are responsible for users' copyright infringement. They have said that their operations are protected by law.

The ISP Association of Ireland has said that there is no legal basis for the music industry's demands that they disconnect copyright-infringing internet users, and that the law already provides ways for content owners to pursue copyright infringers.

Music industry lobby group the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) had pursued Ireland's biggest ISP, Eircom, through the courts in relation to users' alleged copyright infringement.

Eight days into the court case Eircom agreed to the three strikes deal, whereby users are warned twice that they have been caught engaging in illegal file sharing and then cut off a third time they are caught.

The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), Ireland's IFPI-affiliated music industry lobby group, has since written to other ISPs demanding that they block a list of websites it will provide that it believes facilitate piracy.

The ISP Association of Ireland (ISPAI) has said that its members will not submit to IRMA's demands and that its activities are protected by law.

"Privacy of user communications is protected in European and Irish legislation," said the ISPAI's response to the demands. "ISPs can not be expected to ignore these merely because it does not suit another private party. To do so would breach the privacy of our users as well as having serious implications for the continued location of international e-business in this country and the jobs these generate."

Eircom is a member of the ISPAI, but has told Irish reporters that it will automatically comply with IRMA's demands and will block sites that the industry body lists. The ISPAI said that its approach and statement had been approved by "a majority" of its members.

"Irish copyright law provides an avenue for the pursuit of people breaching copyright through the courts. ISPAI members will continue to co-operate fully within these existing legal parameters," it said.

"This legal action is spurious and there is no evidence of wrong-doing by Internet Service Providers. These actions could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new internet services, and hurt Ireland's standing as an e-commerce hub," said the ISPAI's response to the demands.

The ISPAI said that it had approached IRMA two years ago to discuss how best to combat piracy, but that record companies did not respond to its overtures.