Ireland's largest ISP begins disconnecting users who are accused of piracy

Eircom, Ireland's largest ISP, has decided to snuffle up to the entertainment industry's hindquarters and become the first European ISP to actively practice "3 strikes": if you are accused (without proof) of three acts of copyright infringement, they will take away Internet access from your entire household for a year.
Ireland is the first country in the world where a system of "graduated response" is being put in place. Under the pilot scheme, Eircom customers who illegally share copyrighted music will get three warnings before having their broadband service cut off for a year.

The Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma), whose members include EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, reached an out-of-court settlement with Eircom in February 2009 under which the telecoms company agreed to introduce such a system for its 750,000 broadband users.

Eircom to cut broadband over illegal downloads (Thanks, David!)


  1. stupid stupid stupid. Let’s see how long this lasts once the ISP realizes that it’s losing revenue from disconnecting it’s users.

  2. Hopefully, when all their users desert them for a different ISP, they will remember who their customers were and what the purpose of a business is.

  3. What’s to stop people just getting a 3G dongle? Not as good as a proper connection but at least the family will be able to check emails etc…

  4. Its a sad thing.

    Ironicly IMRA’s previous attack was to attampt shut down a web site that SOLD cds.

    I have conflicted feeling about our lack of response. On one hand I really feel that we should do somthing. But on the other I do really like the way the majority of the courtry just kind of ignores the government as if they live in a paralel reality.

    Anyway, bottom line, it will make little diference. We have one of the highest rates of piracy in the world and that is unlikly to change soon. Between encription, alternitive ISPs and eircom’s own incompetance this will be little more that a talking point for a few days.

  5. Tally-ban rule starts in the badlands of the globalization landscape.

    “Globalization”, haven’t heard that term for so long. Almost as if it suddenly gave up the ghost and departed forthwith.

    Meanwhile what are H.R.Clinton and T.Geithner now lecturing China about?

  6. Well I’m with Eircom and personally I think that they really regret being forced to do this. For instance I’m going to change ISP. The data protection commissioner (a branch of the government) ruled that a persons IP address does not account as “private information.” They had no backing from the government, and being a semi-state body they kind of have to go along with the ordeal. That said, other ISP are refusing; most likely because they know what it will do for business.

    I hope this doesn’t spread far from our shores, copyright law is already far out of wack with the world as it is.

    1. Data Protection Commisioner actually took the case. The Courts, not the DPC ruled that an IP address didn’t fall under the protection of the Data Protection Act.

  7. Should I assume that there are “safeguards” in-place that shield lawmakers and company executives from being accused? Or is the law written so that ISPs will only accept accusations from IRMA, etc?

  8. Sounds like someone needs to start a campaign accusing all of the members of the government starting with the Taoiseach and working their way down to local dog catchers. Eventually something is going to snap.

  9. And m’learned friends all rub their hands and say “Services removed without proof of what you’re accused of. My, what an interesting case.”

  10. Fuck the fucking fuckers. Clueful geeks in Ireland go for smarttelecom anyway. ISP where the IT guys actively post on the customer support forums = win.

  11. This seems really easy to fix. Since this is extrajudicial, lets simply start accusing the executives of any company that implements 3-strikes of illegally downloading our works.

    By publicly and loudly demonstrating just how broken an idea it is, we can shame ISPs into not going down this path.


    1. This is a brilliant idea. Get enough people making accusations and their system is flooded, make accusations against the right people and the system loses support. Really you could just go through the phonebook and accuse everyone in Ireland. No more customers, no more ISP.

      1. While the idea seems brilliant, I suspect that Eircom will only consider accusations from groups such as IRMA, RIAA or MPAA as legitimate.

        1. Perhaps we can find some sane recording artists who will accuse themselves of infringing on their own works?

          There has to be a decent number of people that would be part of a modern age “sit-in” to show how disastrous arrangements + laws like the above are to normal families.

          1. That won’t do anything. If an artist has signed with a record label, they are not allowed to torrent the music either. All you would do is get the artist legitimately (by the letter of the rule) banned for something that clearly looks like a publicity stunt (because why would an artist have to torrent their own music?).

            What you should do is boycott all MP3’s and CD’s and whatever it is that iTunes sells. You have to speak to the companies in the only language they understand.

        2. They may only consider complaints from those groups, but what validation process if any do they have in place to assure that’s where the complaint originated?

          Email addresses are easily spoofed, and I suspect it’s trivial to find a copy of the boiler plate used.

  12. So, who do we disconnect first? Let’s start sending letters and get some of the PM’s families cut off. Pretty soon they’ll understand the danger of unmoderated legal action.

  13. Could this be basis for termination of contract? The ISP has singlehandedly changed the terms of the contract. I don’t think that’s legal.

  14. Every time the recording industries accomplish something like this, another nail in their collective coffin. Personally, I haven’t put a nickel in their pocket in five years and counting :-D

  15. A few things to note:

    This is not a law, it is a private arrangement, part of an out-of-court settlement between Eircom and the Irish Recorded Music Ass. Those who face disconnection will not have the opportunity to confront their accusers before a judge unless they take civil action themselves. It is, in essence, an end-run around the legal system that requires minimum effort on the part of the recording industry with maximum impact on Irish internet users.

    IRMA have a contract with a company called DtecNet to monitor file sharing networks for Irish users and provide IP addresses for further action. This means they are not going to be accepting legal notices from anyone else and are not going to be tricked into disconnecting the Taoiseach any time soon.

    The disconnection periods seem to be confused at the moment; it’s being reported as anywhere between one month and indefinite.

    There are three major players in the Irish BB market: Eircom, UPC and BT/Vodafone, with Eircom being the largest. IRMA are already on their way to court with UPC to try for the same deal again. If those last two fall no one else has the resources to stand and fight. From that point on the recording industry will own the entire Irish broadband network.

  16. If some politician or lobbyist posts just about any photo at all, you can probably nail them for trademark infringement.

    Almost everything is trademarked these days. From the image of that Ford car driving by to the design of that mailbox in the background to the logo or design of the clothes that they’re wearing.

    Also, for extra added fun, if you report the infringement to the holder of the rights then they are forced into a “use it or lose it” situation.

    Time to coming up with lists of the politicians and lobbyists supporting this sort of lack of accountability and due process and giving them a taste of their own medicine.

  17. Time to boycott Eircom. IMRO are idiots. A long track record of not getting the digital revolution. Eircom have held back Ireland’s net access by monopolising the local loop for 10 years. Its like the village idiot and the old crone in bed together.

  18. The new face of a terrorist is the corporate world: What they are doing is called ECO TERRORism, let’s see if the cops will go after them like they promised they would (no chance, this is the good kind of terror ).

  19. Quite a sad day for Ireland really.
    Eircom are pussies. From what I can tell this is all about blocking torrent technology so I can’t really see it having any effect on overall piracy.
    It will more than likely push up the price of broadband in Ireland.
    The worry is that once this gets passed in Ireland they will roll it out across europe.

  20. I’m surprised on one has yet commented on the fact that the article makes repeated references to ‘illegal downloads’ despite the fact that there is no indication that anywhere in the process will there be an attempt made to determine whether or not the download was in fact illegal. The ISP is merely taking a third party accusation as fact.

  21. Kutztown, Pennsylvania (USA) does this. They have to cover their own ass since they started the “Hometown Utilicom” fiber optic service, in which the good citizens of Kutztown can buy internet service directly from the borough and have it balled into one convenient monthly bill along with water, sewer, trash and electric. I know several people who have been accused.

    1. So when they take away water, electricity, and democracy to people accused of having an illegal copy of ‘Transformers’ will anyone complain?

      Punishment should fit the crime, yes? So why do BMG and FOX get to kill the family of people who steal their content?

      O right, movies and music trumps rights and political participation.

  22. @ ”And m’learned friends all rub their hands and say “Services removed without proof of what you’re accused of. My, what an interesting case.”

    They’ve a stipulation in the contract of 99% of ISPs to the effect that infringing any sort of copyrighted material allows them to cut you off without respite. Similarly, getting this info from a 3rd Party (IRMA in this case) allows them plausible deniability.

    What major ISP wouldn’t love to trim the top 10% of its bandwith stealers and torrenters?

    There’s a lot of highly intelligent, motivated people in the country of Ireland searching now for every possible solution to this. We have some of the worst broadband penetration and speeds in the developed world, but we conversely have some of the most technically gifted minds in Europe thanks to the fact that Google, IBM, Microsoft, Apple etc… all had their European HQs here.

    As it is, Eircom are only processing 50 requests a week. It’ll be at least a month before anyone is even disconnected.

    The IP address thing? Unless an ISP is prepared to MiTM an SSL connection on a large scale, then its simply an academic matter that’ll need an appeal.

    We’re a country of barely 4 million with by *far* the highest concert ticket prices and CD prices in the world. We’re not going to be setting a precedent for any other country and I’m not even sure do we have a digital crimes division outside of Child Pornography (at cracking which they’ve a very admirable track record).

    We’re TINY. 1/8th the size of Texas. There’s more people in the US with Irish passports then there are in the country of Ireland. If we weren’t a white, English speaking country with huge cultural connections to the US and UK then you wouldn’t be hearing a word about this.

    Now a far more serious thing is the situation where our music blogs are now trying to be forced to PAY A LICENCE

    In their eyes, embedding an mp3 from an outside source is the same as hosting it yourself, unless it’s from a provider like Youtube or Lala that has a very broad-ranging agreement to do so.

    As another poster pointed out

    ”IMRO rang me, asked me to buy a license since some of these bands would be imro registered, and when I asked if it was alright to play my own music – since I am also imro registered – I was told that I couldnt. Even if I wanted to do a full 24/7 radio stream playing only my own material, I would still need a license. Thats how stupid that is.”

    And the cheapest licence?

    Over $200

    We’re well sick of this shit at this stage. If we keep quiet and play along, we’ll gradually give the labels enough rope to hang themselves. We don’t tend to get terribly alarmist about things as a society; we just put the head down and get it done.

    The BBC, CNN etc… are merely quoting from a press release put out by the major labels disguised as a lobbyist body.

    We don’t like our neutrality or independence threatened by virtue of commercial gain. Neither will we stand by and allow it in any way to affect the production and performance of indigenous music.

    (Cory or others, if you want a little OP-Ed piece about the state of affairs in Ireland, I’d only be happy to oblige. You have my Email)

  23. Just over a year ago I was happy to see the EU “kill[ing] the idea of forcing ‘3-strikes’ copyright/internet legislation on European states” at

    Quite a few people were.

    Now I’m confused. If the EU kills the ‘3-strikes’ threat, how can an EU State like Ireland allow it?

    Can someone put me right please?

  24. I won’t be affected by this because I still record the top 20 off the radio with my portable cassette player.
    Sure you might miss a wee bit at the end of a song when the DJ starts talkin or the ads come on but it’s worth it stick one in the faces of the real IRMA.
    I’ll never forgive them for Enniskillen.

  25. @37 – This was a two part system (I’m also poster 36 in the interests of transparency)

    France passed this in LAW.

    Eircom are doing this as part of a VOLUNTARY EXTRA-JUDICIAL AGREEMENT. They were threatened to be sued into the ground and they basically rolled over. The important fact was that our Data Protection Comissioner lost the case in the High Court and now IP addresses do not constitute privileged information.

    But they’re complying on the basis that

    (a) They only process 50 a week. (Thats 50 / 750,000 users)

    (b) The IRMA is legally obliged to file identical suits aimed at their competitors.

    Next up is UPC. Who is Europe’s biggest cable provider. They’ve pretty much started rubbing their hands together in press conferences and said ‘bring it on”.

    I’ll leave you with this graph, to put things in perspective;

    Ireland’s broadband speed ranking on the World scale. We’re the second worst in the OECD (thanks Mexico!) and we’re a bloody Island!

    (Also, legal concepts like entrapment don’t exist under Irish law, just in case people start making non-helpful sweeping statements)

  26. “Accused without proof” –> whatever happened to the idea of innocent until convicted? Or is arresting people on suspicion of petty theft standard practice in Ireland? (I equate here with petty theft, because petty theft does not put the greater public at risk but crimes such as manslaughter do).

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